177. Beat the System – Petra
BEAT THE SYSTEM (1984)
BEAT THE SYSTEM (1984)
For one brief moment in time Petra was the biggest thing in Christian Music. Not just Christian Rock, but all of Christian Music. Besides having the third best selling album of all time during 1984 the band also performed live in front of nearly 150,000 people, headlining tours featuring bands that just two years previous they were opening up for. At that moment in time lead vocalist Greg X Volz announced his departure.
Following two uber-successful releases in More Power To Ya and Not of This World, Petra entered the studio with producer Jonathan David Brown and emerged with something completely different. Filled with electronica, keyboards and computerized drums, the live sounding rock feel reminiscent of Styx, Foreigner and Boston was replaced by something that was actually more original than any of its predecessors.
Though dated because of the electronic enhancements and later rebuffed for some technological excesses, the album is actually filled with some of Bob Hartman’s finest songs and easily Volz strongest vocal performances. If one strips down the songs to their bare essentials there are many gems here. But the album must also be lauded for its progressive production and attempts at breaking out the previous formula. In a strange way the album is actually the “hardest” rocking album despite the programming and electronic enhancements. Hell, if it just had real drums it would be nearly perfect.
With the much more full production sound the band expanded what was “acceptable” on Christian radio. No longer would the band be forced to rewrite “The Coloring Song” just to find something palatable for CCM radio. “Hollow Eyes” made a huge impact on radio with both a more aggressive sound and less than cheery lyrical content. The worshipful Adonai was much heavier in the guitar vein than most CCM radio was accustomed to and yet it became a radio classic.
In many ways the album broke ground. The sheer popularity of the group forced radio, Christian television and other “ol’ boy” media outlets to take notice. The overwhelming commercial success of the album also made the genre not only more acceptable but caused many labels to begin searching for the “next Petra,” opening the doors for the likes of Audio Adrenaline, DC Talk and Newsboys.