80's Petra.

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80's Petra.

Post by MetalGospel on Tue Apr 14, 2015 1:47 pm

Ok, since Petra means rock.  So why did Petra go Christian Contemporary in The 90's?

There was a time in the mid to late 90's that Petra sounded more like Michael W. Smith than they did Petra.  To quote the name of a Deliverance CD =  What a Joke.

I wish they had stayed with the This Means War / On Fire / Petra Praise 1 / Beyond Belief sound.

They could have done so much more than what they did.

They had an amazing sound in The 80's, and then they just gave it up for no reason.

I still say that Deflector was the heaviest song that Petra ever made.  That song was not too far from being Speed Metal.

Even the Greg Voltz stuff was amazing too.  Especially More Power to Ya CD and Not of This World CD.

I also noticed that not just their music started to dwindle down in The 90's, but their message and their lyrics started dwindling down too.

Instead of bring you to your knees to accept Jesus as Savior type of lyrics, they were becoming much more watered down and user-friendly. 

If something is not broke, then don't try to fix it.

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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by WildWorld on Tue Apr 14, 2015 2:20 pm

They went back to a heavier sound with their final album :


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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by Soldier777 on Tue Apr 14, 2015 2:38 pm

Being a Petra fan I figured I'd add a comment. Their 70's stuff was good too but just about every album from 1981 to 1994 was good except for parts of a couple of albums like This Means War. No Doubt was not bad too but with Bob not being in the band as much wasn't the same. They rekindled the magic a bit with Revival and Jekyll and Hyde - both were decent albums but the 80s and early 90s were their best. Classic Petra was good too with Greg back in that version of Petra. I would like too see another album or 2 of  Classic Rock before they retire for good.
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by bodachi on Tue Apr 14, 2015 2:43 pm

I can't disagree with you much.  Everything after "Beyond Belief" was not worth listening to (& BB was not all that great, but I like it okay). I think "This Means War!" was the last great Petra album (in my arrogant opinion).

I've only recently discovered "Jekyll & Hyde", so I have yet to make any judgements.
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by metaldude on Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:07 pm

I found Petra mostly a pop band before John Schlitt joined. On Fire was the first album I liked enough to buy. I just figured their hard rock days were a phase they went through with the lighter stuff being what they really were. Of course, Jekyll and Hyde kinda blows my theory out of the water.
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by eatbugs on Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:05 am

I'm with you except my cut-off is approximately No Doubt.  I bought God Fixation new and I believe I have only listened to it once.

With regard to the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" thing, John Schlitt's perception at the time was that it WAS broken.  I remember an interview in HM Mag where he said that hard rock just wasn't selling and the band still had value as name recognition.  I hope I'm not misquoting him, if someone can track down that interview (it was approximately the God Fixation timeframe) that would be cool.

For the record I am a huge Petra fan and the John Schlitt-hard rock era is my favorite and Beyond Belief is one of my top 5 all time favorite albums.  I also enjoy the Greg X era (except Washes Whiter Than) and the Jesus Music era.

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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by Candlemass on Wed Apr 15, 2015 6:30 am

Yea, that's about the size of what John said in that interview back then, Petra just wasn't selling. I used to feel that way, but I've come to really enjoy "No Doubt" and "God Fixation"...
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by WildWorld on Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:51 am

The problem i had with God Fixation was that it was just too mellow and sounded like that "adult alternative" stuff (ie, Toad the Wet Sprocket). Couldnt they have at least attempted a Smashing Pumpkins sound? Heck, just go nuts and do a pop-punk or ska-punk album, that would at least have been different.

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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by Candlemass on Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:24 am

Still has quality songs though...
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by Fundy on Wed Apr 15, 2015 11:59 am

I love all their albums apart from God Fixation and Double Take.
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by eatbugs on Wed Apr 15, 2015 3:20 pm

Double Take!  Another disappointment.  I didn't even bother to get Revival.

Let's talk about better music though: Farewell is excellent!  If Petra were to do a re-record album of hard rock like how they did "It Is Finished" from Farewell I would buy that album in a heartbeat.

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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by alldatndensum on Wed Apr 15, 2015 5:05 pm

Petra was extremely excited to have found John Schlitt after Volz had departed.  I think that this brought in an era of wanting to rock a bit harder to truly showcase John's grittier vocal style.  This progressed all the way through "Beyond Belief".  At that point, though, the band begins to show the maturity and maybe a little fatigue that a veteran band often falls prey to.  They still had many great rock tracks on "Unseen Power", "Wake Up Call", "No Doubt", and "God Fixation".  These are rock records but are also inundated with a lot of CCM in order to stay popular on Christian radio.  They had achieved that "great American youth group band" status.  While not as heavy as the early Schlitt records, they are still great rock albums albeit not exactly hard rock.

I think you can see John's creative side come more to the surface on the "No Doubt" and "God Fixation" albums.  His solo albums are much more in line with these two records.  When you look at them that way, they are much more enjoyable.

"Jekyll & Hyde" was a great return/retirement record.  It was ALMOST perfect.  It had one thing wrong with it--no Bob Hartman guitar solos.  While I love this album, it is no different really than Stryper's "Reborn" as they are both without guitar solos and are aging bands attempts at being relevant in an alternative rock scene.  I just never understood the acceptance of Petra doing this and the near hatred for Stryper's album.  I wish that both albums could be redone and simply have guitar solos added to the tracks.  I believe that fans would have received both a lot better if presented this way.
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by 6stringgrind on Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:08 pm

I pulled out This Means War for the car ride today because of this thread, but man, I just wasn't diggin' it. Way too much keyboard. The songs just sounded kinda dorky. I was immediately reminded why I was never a big fan of these guys. They tried to straddle the hard rock world and the CCM world and just ended up too lightweight and wimpy for my tastes. There are a few songs sprinkled in the catalog that I enjoy, but for the most part it's not my thing.

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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by eatbugs on Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:08 pm

alldatndensum wrote:It was ALMOST perfect.  It had one thing wrong with it--no Bob Hartman guitar solos. 
I've been saying that for years.  The songs seem short and rushed.  A good 30 minute album could have been a great 40 minute album with solos and better bridges.

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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by Thiago-Brazil on Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:46 pm

I am impressed no one so far showed love for Unseen Power. It is one of my favorite petra albums, undoubtedly. It is to polish for my tastes, but a very good album.

On the other hand, Revival was second petra album I aquired and it was soooo disapointing that I almost gave up of petra. I only didn't because I wanted to hear how Jekkyl and Hyde sounded. As the store employee allowed me to listen to it before buying, I was blown away by it.

Regarding the other 90's albums, I don't care for No Doubt and Wake up call.

God Fixation isn't the kind of album I wouldn't enjoy nowadays. But I did at the time I was introduced to Petra through this album. At that time, I was listening to third day and stuff like that.
I remember I couldn't understand a word in english, but then I translated all of the lyrics from God Fixation and its lyrics still approaches to my heart nowadays.
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by eatbugs on Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:52 pm

You're right, Unseen Power needs some love.  I love it.  "Sight Unseen" was my favorite song by ANYONE in high school.

It gets less love because it comes sandwiched between Beyond Belief and when they start to go downhill musically.

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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by MetalGospel on Wed Apr 15, 2015 11:06 pm

@bodachi   I completely agreed with everything you said 100%.


To me, Petra started dwindling and fading out after Beyond Belief. 

Although, "Unseen Power" tape did have some really good songs, but it did have a few sappy Pop songs on there too.

I agree with what people here are saying about Double Take and God Fixation.   Horrible CDs.  Should have never been made.

I still wish that Bob Hartman would go back in the studio and re-do the early Petra CDs with more guitars and less keyboards, and make those early songs heavier.  Especially on Back on the Streets CD.



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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by srguenther on Thu Apr 16, 2015 10:20 am

I think in the early days Petra was changing and evolving constantly, but by the time the 80's ended they were stuck in a rut - still some great stuff put out but couldnt change with the times...

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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by pathogenics_cloned_twin83 on Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:34 pm

I thought everything they did up Beyond Belief was great in one form or another. Beat The System weirded me out a little but I got used to it. I even like their 70's stuff, not polished or anything, but still a blast to listen to. Washes Whiter Than was perhaps their first bad attempt at catering to the contemporary market but they recovered for the rest of the 80's. After Beyond Belief, I always thought they began a downhill slide. Unseen Power to me was robbed of all the hard rock sound, and sounded rushed (which Hartman admits it was). Wake-Up Call was a recovery, but by No Doubt, alternative rock had its tentacles in their sound. By Petra Praise 2, I was seriously getting worried. God Fixation, well I liked it for some strange reason, but after that I lost interest big time. By Jekyll & Hyde, I no longer paid attention to their stuff.

That being said, this "Classic Petra" revival of sorts has rekindled my interest in them a bit. I still need to get Jekyll & Hyde, and I bought Double Take the other day, a pleasant enough listen I guess, but just too much of an effort to fit in with the scene.
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by srguenther on Fri Apr 17, 2015 10:10 am

I liked unseen power but I thought it came too late...music was changing. Wake up call was my first clue that they were going downhill.

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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by Guest on Fri Apr 17, 2015 10:27 am

Is Classic Petra still together, or did they end it after the live album?

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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by alldatndensum on Fri Apr 17, 2015 8:35 pm

I believe that Classic Petra is finished.  Petra, however, is doing a few shows together.  I do hope that this leads to a new album.
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by exact33 on Fri Apr 17, 2015 9:15 pm

I really liked their material up through Wake Up Call. I think This Means War and On Fire are absolute classics.
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by Follower of Jesus on Sat Apr 18, 2015 10:31 am

They could do no wrong between 1981 (Never Say Die) and 1995 (No Doubt). Seriously, I really like every single album in this period and enjoy them now. After No Doubt, however, it went down fast and hard. I hated God Fixation, Revival, Double Take, etc. I don't even think Jekyll and Hyde is all that great. People rave about it. Yeah, the guitars were crunchier, but there was no solos and song structures were more modern.

They were at their best when paired with the Elephante Brothers (as were most other bands). This Means War! is my favorite and it's mostly nostalgia. I was so excited to get this record that I got it the day it was released. I saw them on that tour in 1988 (my first rock concert). That album is just pure gold to me. On Fire is a close second. Beyond Belief and Unseen Power are also excellent albums, save for the wretched "Hand On My Heart" (what on earth were they thinking recording that piece of crap?!).
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by pathogenics_cloned_twin83 on Sat Apr 18, 2015 11:57 am

Follower of Jesus wrote: save for the wretched "Hand On My Heart" (what on earth were they thinking recording that piece of crap?!).

Agreed...one of the reasons I never liked that album.
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by eatbugs on Sat Apr 18, 2015 12:33 pm

pathogenics_cloned_twin83 wrote:
Follower of Jesus wrote: save for the wretched "Hand On My Heart" (what on earth were they thinking recording that piece of crap?!).

Agreed...one of the reasons I never liked that album.
+2, but I'm willing to skip past it because there are enough other good songs on the album.

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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by Thiago-Brazil on Sat Apr 18, 2015 3:29 pm

eatbugs wrote:
pathogenics_cloned_twin83 wrote:
Follower of Jesus wrote: save for the wretched "Hand On My Heart" (what on earth were they thinking recording that piece of crap?!).

Agreed...one of the reasons I never liked that album.
+2, but I'm willing to skip past it because there are enough other good songs on the album.
Come on, a bad song doesn't make an entire album bad. But I actually enjoy this song as well. Even though it doesn't looks like John Singing.
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by pathogenics_cloned_twin83 on Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:47 pm

No, I don't dislike the album just for that song. I always thought it was a weak album that sounded rushed and robbed of much of the hard rock sound from Beyond Belief. But hey thats just me, I know alot of people do like it.
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by Soldier777 on Sat Apr 18, 2015 6:05 pm

In the 70's, Petra was more experimental. Petra had some rockin tunes like Walkin in the Light, Get Back to the Bible, Storm Comin', etc. Come and Join Us is an awesome album. Washes Whiter than was good but had a couple of tunes I didn't care for. Never Say Die had some rockin tunes and some moderate tunes. 

Petra was gaining momentum from More Power to Ya to Unseen Power. For the most part every album was good and lots of rockin and hard rock. I also liked Wake-up Call, both the harder tunes and the moderate tunes. I liked their use of slide guitar in He's Been In My Shoes. No Doubt was not bad. I didn't care for the ballads but the rock songs were good. 

Like many have said, Petra weren't as good after No Doubt. Petra Praise 2 wasn't as good as the first praise album and was more mellower. Some band members didn't want to do a praise album and was fired or quit. God Fixation wasn't as good and the first 2 songs was not the way to start an album and should of been left off. Double Take was the album I liked the least and was their last album they had to record for Word. Word gave them little support at this time.

Revival was a decent effort. Jekyll and Hyde like many said would of been better if they had guitar solos. It seem that classic bands like Petra made the same mistake in the early to mid 2000's as they did in the early to mid 90's - try to sound modern and current - like Def Leppard X and Stryper Reborn. Farewell was a decent live album - I have the CD and DVD. 2 Guys From Petra was a decent collection of praise tunes and was better than Revival. 

Finally with Classic Petra it was a return to their glory days. This was meant to be a 3 part or so part deal but ther was issues with the Sony Music label so it is permanently or temporarily stopped. John Schlitt said in an interview in early 2014 on Beyond the Riff that he figured there would be a new Petra album in 2013 but didn't happen. I would suspect there is one in the works. Anyway, that's their brief history and my take on their music. 

Also, I do remember that John Schlitt interview in the mid to late 90's about him ranting about the lack of support from Word records and the industry and they were interested in newer bands and artists. Usually John is a laid back person but he let his frustrations show in that interview.
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by pathogenics_cloned_twin83 on Sat Apr 18, 2015 8:35 pm

Soldier777 wrote:In the 70's, Petra was more experimental. Petra had some rockin tunes like Walkin in the Light, Get Back to the Bible, Storm Comin', etc. Come and Join Us is an awesome album. Washes Whiter than was good but had a couple of tunes I didn't care for. Never Say Die had some rockin tunes and some moderate tunes. 

Yeah, I always had fun cranking the self titled album, I think it rocks. It's very rough, but fun at the same time. I think Come And Join Us is a very underrated album, "Woman Don't You Know" is my favorite, the drum solo is wild. Washes Whiter Than...I listened to it so much I like it, but I think was a perfect example of trying too hard to please a record label, so much energy from the first two records gone.


Also, I do remember that John Schlitt interview in the mid to late 90's about him ranting about the lack of support from Word records and the industry and they were interested in newer bands and artists. Usually John is a laid back person but he let his frustrations show in that interview.



That's interesting...I'd like to hear that. It certainly makes sense from what happened to their sound.
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by MetalGospel on Sat Apr 18, 2015 10:11 pm

I didn't hate the "Unseen Power" CD or "Wake Up Call" CD, but they were not rocking as much as they were with the other CDs that came before.  You could tell they were slowing down and going more Pop / Contemporary.

When Petra got to the No Doubt CD and Petra Praise 2 CD, I gave up on them.  Way too watered down, and sounding too much like Michael W. Smith.  Petra just became a Pop band at that time.  Out the door I went from liking that band anymore. 

I absolutely could not get enough of the "This Means War", "On Fire" type of sound, and I still do to this day.  Would have been great if they would have stayed with that type of sound over the years. 

To see them go more in the direction of Michael W. Smith and more Christian Contemporary in The 90's, it just wasn't the same Petra anymore.  Almost like 2 completely different bands with the same name.

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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by StarFire on Sun Apr 19, 2015 11:12 am

I don't know. I think what happened with Petra happened with most of the 80s music scene as a whole. Many of the hard rockin bands like Bon Jovi went soft once the 90s hit.
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Re: 80's Petra.

Post by 5minutes on Mon Apr 20, 2015 11:05 am

I think it's important to remember that Petra has always kinda been a reflection of popular hard rock of the day.  Back in the 70's, like on the first album, there was a lot of Eagles influence.  They branched out a bit, but by the time the 80's rolled around, they were trying to be Journey / Boston clones.  They stuck with that up until This Means War!, which was pretty unique, but still had the AOR feel. 

They went with a more pop-metal edge with On Fire!, and then basically did the same thing with Beyond Belief.  A lot of folks say they mellowed out, but then I listen to every song on the album besides "Love" and "Prayer", and while it's got a few mellower moments, it's actually a pretty heavy album.  Unseen Power continued the Bon Jovi-driven era.

And then came Wake Up Call.  This was, IMO, the first big shift.  They dumped the Elefantes in favor of Brown Bannister, who went for a more organic less rock-driven feel.  Considering his experience was with Amy Grant, Debby Boone, and the Imperials...  it's not surprising.  WUC wasn't a bad album, but it wasn't as heavy and was a tad disappointing.  They went back to the Elefantes to follow that up with No Doubt, and the conversion from hard rock to mellower pop-rock was complete.  I refer to the time from here up until Jekyll and Hyde as "not Petra". 

Jekyll and Hyde was the first all-out rock album by the band since Wake Up Call, and I adored it.  Unfortunately, by this time, Petra was a shell of its former self, relying on a touring drummer (formerly from ELO) and, when I saw them on their first "Farewell" tour, no keyboard player.  It was the Bob and John S. show.

And honestly, that was pretty much it.  They could release another one, but I probably wouldn't care (kinda like how I didn't care about Back to the Rock). 

Just my $.02.
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