Almost forty years later, Petra’s “More Power to Ya” still has some power – RedState
Those of us who remember 1982 fondly for something more than a royal presidentWhile that’s certainly a great place to start, you might as well remember it as a time when Christian rock was beginning to emerge from the shadows as more than a fad heralded by a few and, at best, ignored, if not. actively opposed, by the church in general. While bands like Daniel Amos Y The 77 They were forging their claim as alternative rock heroes for the faithful, many more mainstream endeavors were making inroads into the evangelical market. Leading the charge was Petra.
Petra had been around since the mid-1970s, releasing two scattered albums before a near-full staff turnover left the band not so much a band as an idea in the hands of guitarist Bob Hartman and vocalist Greg X. Volz, Volz having the sadly overlooked the “e” band on your resume. The two put together a soft pop / rock album in 1979 titled Washes whiter than, packed with radio tunes and a lyrical approach to biblically woven core faith proclamations, so solidly put together that even the most badass anti-rock fundamentalist couldn’t tear them apart. 1981 saw Hartman and Volz take a deep breath and let go Never say die, an album that began with the soft ballad “The Coloring Song”. There was a surprise in store for the listener who settled in expecting more of the same, as beginning with the album’s second track, “Chameleon,” Petra burst out with a carefully controlled sand-rock sound that undoubtedly made those who they expected something much more moderate to run towards the exits. . It wasn’t metal or alternative by any means, but within its genre (think Boston, Foreigner, Journey, Toto, etc.) Petra had rediscovered her muscle.
Having re-established themselves as a rock band, Petra moved on in 1982 with More power to you. Jonathan David Brown’s production was clean if a little weak, although whether this is due to his work or the weak mastery that was the bête noire of all Christian music during the 1980s is a matter of conjecture; one listen to the rich, textured sound he captured in 1976 in Daniel Amos’ Shotgun angel indicates that he was not the culprit. The songs followed the same pattern that was established in Never say die, the occasional radio-friendly ballad featuring the title track surrounded by sand-ready hymns that managed not to be overstated. Petra was the answered prayer of a youth pastor. The band swayed, but safely.
Girder Records has released a remastered version of More power to you along with two other Petra titles: The 1985 Loaded Keyboard Crossover Attempt Beat the system and the mediocre 1987 This means war – being the second album with John Schlitt as lead vocalist in place of Volz, who left the band afterwards Beat the system due to disagreements with Hartman about the business side of things. While Schlitt was more than up to the task of replacing Volz vocally, Volz’s loss as a songwriter put Petra on a creative decline which, coupled with the waning popularity of arena rock, saw the band’s fortunes diminish. gradually from the mid-1990s until he more or less called it a day in 2005.
Back More power to you. The album finally got a decent mastering job, the sound now has genuine punch and depth without being too compressed. This brings out the long-suspected but rarely presented fact: when it comes to her genre, musically Petra really came face-to-face with her secular counterparts. The musicianship was solid although not virtuous. Volz was an excellent singer, seemingly effortlessly breaking high notes not to show off, but rather to flesh out the songs.
Hartman and Volz’s composition was deceptively impressive. While a cursory listening indicates that it wasn’t much more than a foundation for the band’s solidly biblical lyrics mentioned above, a closer look revealed a fair amount of color and depth behind the melodies and arrangements. This is best demonstrated in “Judas Kiss,” which cleverly begins with a deliberate mask (remember that controversy?) Saying, “Why are you looking for the devil when you should be looking for the Lord?” before stepping into a staccato guitar riff set atop roaring drums and keyboards. The album’s other standout tune is “Rose-Colored Stained Glass Windows,” whose magnificent hooks prompted a withering observation of a church indifferent to suffering outside its walls. Petra didn’t bother being the rock band of the churches that hated rock bands, but it didn’t always sound good.
There is a great deal of nostalgia that is stirred when listening More power to you. It’s hard to imagine an average Arcade Fire fan stepping into it, or much of anything else from the rock era of the 1980s. But, for those of us who believe that if it was good, then it is good now, the revitalized More power to you is a welcome listening for those who enjoy a good tune behind the Good Book.