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Petra - 1990 Beyond Belief

ALBUM: Beyond Belief
LABEL: Dayspring
SERIAL: 7014191624
YEAR: 1990


LINEUP: John Schlitt - vocals * Bob Hartman - guitars * John Lawry - keyboards * Ronny Cates - bass * Louie Weaver - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Armed And Dangerous * 02 I Am The Rock * 03 Creed * 04 Beyond Belief * 05 Love * 06 Underground * 07 Seen And Not Heard * 08 Last Daze * 09 What's In A Name * 10 Prayer


Petra is regarded by many as the pioneers of the Christian Rock genre. Unlike most Christian rock bands, which are always 'kind of like a Christian version of ... (some secular, much better band)', Petra always has always had a sound of their own. Formed in 1972, Petra's 'sound' has changed drastically in its 33 year run; from jangly Jesus juiced country-rock ditties to pure heavenly AOR. It would take the band nine years to be blessed (sorry!) with some recognition outside its 'Jesus Freak' circles. 1981's 'Never Say Die' started Petra's rise in popularity and with this momentum came three fairly successful platters; 'More Power To Ya' in 1982, 'Not Of This World' in 1983 and 'Beat The System' in 1984. At the end of 1985 former Head East vocalist John Schlitt replaced Greg X Volz who left for a solo career. With the addition of Schlitt's golden throat and the group turning to brothers John and Dino Elefante's slick production, Petra became an AOR powerhouse. 'Back To The Street' was the first album to feature Petra's new polished AOR sound. By 1987, Petra had entered their musical peak with three more great AOR releases: 'This Means War!', 'On Fire!', and 'Beyond Belief'. The latter album not only became the group's most successful but it ranks up with the likes of Idle Cure, White Heart and Allies best IMO.

The Songs
Petra's 12th platter kicks off with the explosive 'Armed And Dangerous'. Even the most agnostic bugger can't deny its infectious hook and those Kansas-like keys! The John Elefante penned 'I Am On The Rock' follows suit with another strong melody and slick production compliments of the Pakaderm team. John Lawry's melodic sense of the keys, and harmonic backing vocals shine on 'Creed' - which begins slow and turns into a frantic hard rocker. Although I never cared much for the title track, its John Schlitt's amazing voice and Bob Hartman's guitar solo that's its saving grace. 'Love' is a decent ballad although Petra has done better and does with the closer 'Prayer' - which is a tearjerker to say the least. Other highlights include 'Underground', one of Petra's most overlooked classics. 'Seen And Not Heard' has an 80's Kiss vibe to it and makes it clear Petra's lyrical evangelism held them back from becoming rock radio staples. AOR heaven opens up for 'Last Daze' which is on point with White Heart or Idle Cure's finest moments - again features Lowry's amazing keys along with a contagious driving beat. While the lyrical conviction of the band will turn off some, the musicianship here is undeniable and deserving of mention on Glory-Daze.

In Summary
'Beyond Belief' won the group it's first Grammy for Best Rock/Contemporary Gospel Album, making Petra the first band to win this award. The band also released a mini-movie of the same title. The albums following 'Beyond Belief' won the band several more awards which included two more Grammys, and several Dove Awards. Unfortunately the musically challenged 90's and numerous line-up changes forced Petra to backslide from the AOR 'Glory-Daze'. Petra officially called it quits in 2005 but have resurrected in various forms since. This included a Farewell Tour where former members Greg X. Volz and John Schlitt traded off vocals on songs from their respective eras. Even the original Petra lineup of Bob Hartman, John DeGroff, Greg Hough, and Bill Glover performed together at two shows. Schlitt and Hartman even joined forces again under the band name 'II Guys from Petra'. Petra's final show was December of 2007 where they reunited for a concert in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Something tells me they may return again, but probably not to the caliber heard here.

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#1 | Eric on May 09 2008 18:23:29
I never got on with Petra all that much. To me they always seemed a day late and a dollar short with Boston influenced album covers, average material and a vocalist's that never did much for me, including Schlitt. Never a big Head East fan either...
#2 | gdazegod on May 09 2008 20:22:06
I have the mini-movie for this album. Despite the preachiness of the lyrics, I think the ballad 'Love' is an exceptional track. For me, the Schlitt era albums from 1986 to 1990 are pretty good, wasn't too keen on the albums following this one.
#3 | Eric on May 09 2008 21:26:22
Yeah, I think the Evangelistic vibe was pretty high with Petra, more so than White Heart and SCB or at least I think so. I really tried to get into 'em but no cigar!
#4 | Jez on June 13 2008 23:39:32
Another blast from the past this one and an absolute stormer of an album. This one is chock full of great songs with more hooks than your average band could dream about. I honestly cannot fault any of the material on this and it is without doubt Petra's finest hour and along with The Brave's 'Battlecries' album, the best CCM Melodic rock album ever released.

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