Friday, July 13, 2012

Flashback Friday: 30 Years of Power

More Power To Ya, when you're standing on His Word, when You're trusting with your whole heard in the message you have heard
More Power To Ya, when we're all in one accord. They that wait upon The Lord, they shall renew, they shall renew their strength
The music world is a fickle world. It makes no difference whether the music is mainstream or Christian, longevity is not the norm. Ten years from now most of the hot music of today will be on the "where are they now" pile. By 2042? It takes an exceptional band to defy current trends and actually create a following. To paraphrase the great Steve Jobs "people don't know what to listen to until we play it."

Petra is THE BAND that shattered the mold. On July 3 Star Song Records released the 30th Anniversary of More Power To Ya. More astounding than that, the band is still active and touring, in two different configurations. There is Petra a four piece outfit consisting of Bob Hartman, John Schlitt, Greg Bailey and Cristian Borneo, who is listen as guest drummer on the Band Website. There is also Classic Petra, which is a five piece outfit which consists of Bob Hartman, Mark Kelly, John Lawry, Greg X. Volz and Louie Weaver. For more information on the band in all their various lineups, I would encourage you to read my original Flashback Friday post on the band.

What is more amazing than the fact that the band has a 30th Anniversary Album out this year, is that isn't its first album. Come and Join Us is the bands Sophomore release, and it is quietly celebrating 35 YEARS. In 2014 the eponymous debut will celebrate 40 YEARS. I fully expect Petra to be around to support it.

More Power To Ya was the midway point of Volz's first tenure with Petra, and it set the bands final "sound" as the Christian answer to Journey or Foreigner. For a Christian Teen in Public High School in 1982, the words of the album put spiritual steel in me, and a lot of other teens. The album was released at the height of the "Backward Masking" crusade, where hidden messages from Satan could be found by playing the vinyl record backward on the turntable. The advent of the Cassette Tape, CD, and iPod frustrated the demonic horde, as the messages can only be discovered on vinyl. The most famous of these messages was "Turn Me On Dead Man", which could be found by playing The Beatles "Number Nine" backward. Petra decided to have fun with the crusade by putting a 3 second gibberish at the beginning of Judas Kiss. When played backward on vinyl it said "What are you looking for the Devil for, when you ought to be looking for the Lord?"

Never afraid to turn their songwriting on a complacent and at times hypocritical church, Petra followed that song with Rose Colored Stained Glass Windows. From the opening bars of Mercy Drops, it was obvious that the organized church would be scandalized.

V1. Another sleepy Sunday, safe within the walls. Outside a dying world in desperation calls. But now one hears their cries, or knows what they're about. The doors are locked within, or is it from without.
C. Looking through rose colored stained glass windows. Never allowing the world to come in. Seeing no evil and feeling no pain. Making the Light as it comes from within so dim...So Dim.
V2. Out on your doorstep lay masses in decay. Ignore them long enough maybe they'll go away. When you have so much you think you have so much to lose. You think you have no lack, but you're really destitute.
(Words and Music my Bob Hartman)
CCM Magazine wrote that "no group before or since could put a Bible study to music like Petra." I agree with the sentiment, but not with their ranking of it as #98 out of the 100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music. I would put it at around #65 for impact.

Spiritually insightful lyrics, tight harmonies, and guitars and keyboards par excellence. More Power To Ya is an album that spans the generation gap. Based on its personal impact I would love to give it 5 Emeralds, but more objectively, a rating of 4.5 Emeralds is more on target both for the original and the 30th Anniversary Edition.

Finally, since this is a re-issue and not an original recording, I am unsure whether to include it in the Platinum Vinyl Award pool with the new releases. It would be an interesting experiment to see how it fares against bands whose members weren't even born yet when this album came out. What do you think? I am Awaiting Your Reply.