So I finally bought Classic Petra's album Back To The Rock the other day.
Basically it's Petra (the Greg X Volz mid-80s Petra), but they redid a bunch of their Greg-era hits -- 'modernized' them a little. Since the original Petra was technically disbanded a few years ago, they now call themselves 'Classic Petra.'
On the Petra Zone forum I'd read quite a few 'meh... I didn't like it' reviews, so I was a bit unsure of what to expect. In fact, I probably wouldn't have bought the album if I hadn't already heard the redone versions of Rose Coloured Stained Glass Windows and Adonai (two of my all-time Petra favourites) on classicchristian247.com and loved them both. (Seriously, you wouldn't think mixing strings and an electric guitar would sound like anything, but they do it on that first track and it sounds AMAZING.)
Anyway, so I bought the CD and the next Saturday afternoon my mother and I went birthday shopping for my sister so we listened to it.
Usually I'm a total 'original-version-is-always-best' purist, but these are some good remakes.
The first couple of songs have some seriously kicking bass. Clean, formerly an eighties synth track, is now a thumping growling electric guitar extravaganza. Let's just say now I finally understand why people call songs 'crunchy.' This is it.
I don't know if the extra guitar brings it out, but in Bema Seat and More Power To Ya, you can really tell how much Greg's voice has matured. At one point I actually said "He sounds like Steve Green" (which only warps your mind until you remember that Steve Green was once the lead singer of White Heart).
(I just messed with everything you ever thought about Steve Green).
It's not a bad thing though. At least he (Greg, that is) can still sing. Even twenty-five years after his last Petra concert he still hits all the notes.
Grave Robber took a little warming up to, but the use of strings really amps up the drama.
They also added two new tracks -- Back To The Rock and Too Big To Fail, the former written by Greg and the latter by Petra founder/guitarist and songwriter extraordinaire Bob Hartman.
Back To The Rock starts out a little slow and to me it seems almost off-rhythm, but it picks up well in the chorus. And oh man is it ever catchy. I was singing it for the rest of the day. Here again you can really tell how Greg's voice has mellowed.
Too Big To Fail -- Bob Hartman does it again! This is brimming with the 1980s/early 90s enthusiasm that all Petheads know and love. I love how the bridge loops back to the pre-chorus and the chorus again and then they rock out for a while and then they go back to the bridge and do it again. It's a fantastic, soaring song. This is one of those you turn up and sing along with no matter how bad your singing voice may be.
But what I really wanted to talk about was the remake of Angel Of Light.
It's another one of my favourite Petra songs. In fact, I featured it on Music Day a while back.
They put in some pretty sweet guitar for the remake, but there's this moment where (in both versions) all the instruments drop out and they all sing, a capella:
Angel of light
I see you glow in the night
But you only bring darkness to my soul...
On soul, in the original 1981 version, the guitar slides back in and draws in the other instruments for a full-on musical experience by the time they sing the next line.
In the new version, they layered all the members' voices and added an echo so the a capella already has more resonance. Then, starting on but, there's a couple slaps on the drums and on soul, the guitar comes screaming back in and BAM! a wall of sound hits you and almost knocks you off your feet.
When I first heard it, I was actually stunned breathless. It was so epic.
My only problem now is this: how to choreograph something even half as epic to go with that moment...
Title: Angel Of Light
Artist: Classic Petra (yes, iTunes lists them as just 'Petra,' but iTunes isn't exactly known for their accuracy)
Album: Back To The Rock
Label: Classic Petra LLC (independent release)
iTunes here; YouTube here.
And, of course, I recommend buying the whole album... (also I recommend pumping up the bass and turning up the volume).