The Christian music community is notoriously bad about honoring its past, so when two Petra albums get the "classic" treatment, it's worth noticing. This year marks the 30th anniversary of that band's watershed 1982 album More Power to Ya, and the 25th anniversary of their hit album This Means War. Both sets, re-releasing today, have been remastered and repackaged for physical and digital release as one of the earliest line-ups of the band rides again.
A massive light show, sleeveless "muscle T's" and parachute pants. It was 1983 and Petra was one of the biggest and best "Christian rock" bands in the world. That meant that they sold more records and tickets than about ten other groups, but it was impressive enough for this 13-year-old. Along with DeGarmo and Key, Resurrection Band, Servant, and Sweet Comfort Band, Petra was truly one of the inventors of what would later become known as Christian rock.
By the time I discovered them, they had been around for over a decade and their earliest work was already getting hard to find. With roots planted in the heady times of the late '60s Jesus Movement, Petra were contemporaries of other pioneering artists such as Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Keith Green, and Phil Keaggy. Their debut self-titled album in 1974 boasted the impressive guitar work and almost comically bad vocals of founding member Bob Hartman. Elements of Yes, Allman Brothers, and even Cream could be found in the tracks, but the band needed a singer badly. Thus from the very beginning Petra was a rotating cast of characters supporting Hartman's vision of legitimate, arena-quality, mainstream rock.
There was the progressive-folk-rock Petra of the early to mid 1970s (Petra, Come and Join Us), the organ-and synth-heavy ...
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