Category Archives: Petra

Petra’s albums: #4 – On Fire!

On FireIntroductory Note: In appreciation of Petra’s fortieth year in music and ministry, I am ranking their albums from least best to greatest. You can read my opening post here. [And I meant to conclude this series in 2012, but since Petra just released a 40th anniversary CD this year, I guess this qualifies, too.]

On Fire! (1988, StarSong)

Lineup: John Schlitt (lead vocals), Bob Hartman (guitars), Ronny Cates (bass), John Lawry (keyboards), Louie Weaver (drums)

Having begun to hit their stride with John Schlitt with the previous year’s This Means War!, this album, On Fire!, is considered by many Petra fans the apex of the band’s history, and I can see why. The album begins with three consecutive hard rockers the leave the ears ringing and the mouth curved upward. This was also the first album for new bassist Ronny Cates, completing what I believe to be Petra’s best all-around lineup. Continue reading

Social Share Toolbar
PrintFriendly and PDF

Petra’s albums: #5 – This Means War!

This Means War!Introductory Note: In appreciation of Petra’s fortieth year in music and ministry, I am ranking their albums from least best to greatest. You can read my opening post here.

This Means War! (1987, StarSong)

Lineup: John Schlitt (lead vocals), Bob Hartman (guitars), Mark Kelly (bass), John Lawry (keyboards), Louie Weaver (drums)

This album, Petra’s second with John Schlitt as the front man, is the one which launched the second golden era for the band, during which I became a fan for life. While a great many consider 1986′s Back To The Street a transitional album (fair to some degree), Petra really meant “rock” on This Means War!, and as a result it has endured as one of the bands most loved efforts. Continue reading

Social Share Toolbar
PrintFriendly and PDF

Petra albums: #6 – Back To The Rock

Introductory Note: In appreciation of Petra’s fortieth year in music and ministry, I am ranking their albums from least best to greatest. You can read my opening post here.

Back To The Rock (1983, StarSong)

Lineup: Greg X. Volz (lead vocals), Bob Hartman (guitars), Mark Kelly (bass), John Lawry (keyboards), Louie Weaver (drums)

OK. I realize that by including this album I am kind of cheating on this list. After all, this is technically “Classic Petra,” and over 80% of it is “greatest hits” material that has been re-recorded. But there are two new tracks, and it’s my list and so that is my justification for including this album on the list. After almost twenty-five years Greg X. Volz reunited with Bob Hartman, John Lawry, Mark Kelly, and even Louie Weaver(!). Continue reading

Social Share Toolbar
PrintFriendly and PDF

Petra’s albums: #7 – Not Of This World

Introductory Note: In appreciation of Petra’s fortieth year in music and ministry, I am ranking their albums from least best to greatest. You can read my opening post here.

Not of This World (1983, StarSong)

Lineup: Greg X. Volz (lead vocals), Bob Hartman (guitars), Mark Kelly (bass), John Slick (keyboards), Louie Weaver (drums)

Following up on the success of 1982′s More Power To Ya, Petra came back a year later with Not Of This World, the middle album of a trilogy marking the apex of the Greg X. Volz era, and an album contains three of Petra’s greatest and most enduring songs.

The introduction of synthesizers into the Petra sound start right from the beginning, with “Visions” instrumental pieces which bookend the album, transitioning nicely into the first song and out of the last.

And that first song, oh boy, is a ballad, yes, but a passionate call for believers to realize their identity in Christ in relation to their place in this world. It’s a song in the indicative, and it’s the title track. The lyrics by Bob Hartman are powerful: “We are pilgrims in a strange land / We are so far from our homeland / With each passing day it seems so clear / This world will never want us here / We’re not welcome in this world of wrong / We are foreigners who don’t belong // We are strangers, we are aliens / We are not of this world.” But that I, and all Christians, especially in America, would realize this important truth on a daily basis and live as though it is so. Continue reading

Social Share Toolbar
PrintFriendly and PDF

Petra’s albums: #8 – Beat the System

Introductory Note: In appreciation of Petra’s fortieth year in music and ministry, I am ranking their albums from least best to greatest. You can read my opening post here.

Beat the System (1984, StarSong)

Lineup: John Schlitt (lead vocals), Bob Hartman (guitar), Mark Kelly (bass), John Lawry (keyboards), Louie Weaver (drums)

And now we have reached the upper echelon, the pantheon if you will (and I think you will) of Petra albums. Beat the System is memorable because it is the third in a trilogy of albums which marked and culminated Petra’s first golden era. But it’s also memorable because it was the last studio release with Greg X. Volz as lead singer (that is, until Classic Petra).

John Lawry joined Petra, replacing John Slick on keyboards, and his influence would be immediately felt, as Beat the System is more electronic, utilizing more keyboards, than any other Petra album. While hearing that might cause one to pause before listening, however, the results are fantastic. Continue reading

Social Share Toolbar
PrintFriendly and PDF

Petra’s albums: #9 – Wake-Up Call

Introductory Note: In appreciation of Petra’s fortieth year in music and ministry, I am ranking their albums from least best to greatest. You can read my opening post here.

Wake-Up Call (1993, Word)

Lineup: John Schlitt (lead vocals), Bob Hartman (guitar), John Lawry (keyboards), Ronny Cates (bass), Louie Weaver (drums)

As Def Leppard and Bon Jovi in the secular rock world were giving way to Nirvana, Petra was approaching an era of change after yet another successful album in Unseen Power. John and Dino Elefante had left their stamp on each album of the John Schlitt era as producers, but a change was coming in the person of Brown Bannister, who had produced successful albums for many CCM artists.

The result was ten tracks gathered together to make a great, but underappreciated album (yet one that won Petra a Grammy). There is a mixture of fantastic rock tunes, “Midnight Oil,” “Praying Man,” and “Sleeping Giant,” and wonderful ballads like “He’s Been In My Shoes,” “Marks of the Cross,” and “Just Reach Out.”

Overall, the sound represents a continued slight softening, something seen in each album since On Fire! But there is still plenty of rock to go around, and the result is a delight to the ears and the soul. Continue reading

Social Share Toolbar
PrintFriendly and PDF

Petra’s albums: #10 – Jekyll & Hyde

Introductory Note: In appreciation of Petra’s fortieth year in music and ministry, I am ranking their albums from least best to greatest. You can read my opening post here.

Jekyll & Hyde (2003, Inpop)

Lineup: John Schlitt (lead vocals), Bob Hartman (guitar), Greg Bailey (bass)

Petra seemed dead. Louie Weaver left the band and/or was fired in early 2003. There just seemed to be a negative feeling about where Petra was at the time. Revival had mixed reviews at best, this coming after the majority of fans panned Double Take. A revolving door of band members had been going on since the mid-90s, and now all that was left was Schlitt and Bailey.

But then Bob Hartman returned to active duty. Newsboys’ Peter Furler, running Inpop, agreed to produce and even play drums. A mysterious song by an unnamed band appeared on the Inpop web site. It was a rocker, to say to the least, and the unmistakable voice of John Schlitt pierced through my computer speakers. Needless to say, after hearing the song “Jekyll & Hyde” for the first time I was amped for the album, because it promised to be a true rocker. Continue reading

Social Share Toolbar
PrintFriendly and PDF

Petra’s albums: #11 – Back to the Street

Introductory Note: In appreciation of Petra’s fortieth year in music and ministry, I am ranking their albums from least best to greatest. You can read my opening post here.

Back to the Street (1986, StarSong)

Lineup: John Schlitt (lead vocals), Bob Hartman (guitar), Mark Kelly (bass), John Lawry (keyboards), Louie Weaver (drums)

There are two schools of thought when it comes to this album. One says that it is yet another in the long list of solid Petra albums with some solid tunes, the other says it is a transitional album breaking in the John Schlitt era. Both schools of thought are, in my mind, correct when it comes to Back to the Street.

When Schlitt joined the band, replacing Greg X. Volz, the vocals were a stylistic change (Schlitt has more of a rock-pop voice to Volz’s pop-rock voice, if that makes any sense), and the music began to change as well, but not so much on this album (although it is the first Elefante album) as in the next album and the one after that. So while there are some under-appreciated gems on this ten track offering, it would not quite reach the level of the last three Volz albums or most of the next few Schlitt albums. Continue reading

Social Share Toolbar
PrintFriendly and PDF