This is "The Big 10 - The Essential Tracks", in which we take a closer look at particular artist's or band's back catalogue, and choose the 10 finest moments. These are our subjective choices, so if you want to ask how on earth we could leave off such and such song from the list, you can... and the answer is... because we could.

  Trolls in the sunlight? We are Petrafied!!! Originally formed in 1972 by guitarist Bob Hartman, Petra took its name from the Greek word for "rock", and perhaps also inspired by the ancient city? Regarded as pioneers of CCM and Christian hard rock, the band went through several different line-up's (25 different members and no originals left towards the end), stages and sounds. Merely two lead vocalists though. Praise The Lord! The first couple of albums are weak and it wasn't until vocalist Greg X. Volz (who turned down an offer from REO Speedwagon) joined in 1979, that things started to look/shape up.

The classic Volz era, starting with Never Say Die (1981) More Power to Ya (1982), Not of this World (1983), and ignoring their first attempt (Washes Whiter Than), sported a polished Pomp/rock sound in the vein of Styx, Prism, Kansas, REO Speedwagon. Beat The System (1985), the fun hi-tech Rock/AOR album, featured a typical mid-eighties departure from previous style, computerized sound, electronic drums, casio keyboards.

"Seen and not heard, seen and not heard. Sometimes God's children should be seen and not heard". Former Head East vocalist John Schlitt, (more raspy but still full ranged style) replaced Volz in 1986 and thus the start of a new era under their new producers, The Elefante brothers: John (ex. keyboardist/vocalist for Kansas) and Dino. A more straight-ahead, big arena, Melodic Hard Rock sound and albums such as 'On Fire' (1988) and 1990's 'Beyond Belief' (the latter album won the band their first Grammy), must have in the home of any serious melodic hard rock collector. They disbanded in 2005, but have since done a couple of reunion/comeback shows, and released the comp album with two news songs feat. Volz. Here's the Big 10...

10. I Am On The Rock
9. Stand In The Gap
8. Armed & Dangerous
7. Hit You Where You Live
6. Adonai

5. Homeless Few
"Under the red, white and blue. Right down the street in our view. We're not doing all we can do... to shelter the homeless few". Why the many poor and homeless? Why do people work at two, three, different jobs just to make ends meet? Why did President Bush JR. say, 'God Bless you! That's what America is all about', when being fronted by a single working mother and her 3 jobs? The exact opposite to what any country should be about? This 'On Fire' ballad is spot on with lyric and melody.

4. Counsel of The Holy
The slow build up of the song is pure bliss. The track, also taken off their 1988 album 'On Fire', starts to rhythm guitar and keys only to slow down to a piano upon reaching its first verse, and the chorus eventually hits you over the head like a sledgehammer. Schlitt sounds a lot like Mike Lee from Barren Cross here and the chorus is in fact similar to their work. Very powerful and catchy stuff and the work of keyboardist John Lawry and not Hartman for a change.

3. Judas' Kiss
Recorded in 1982 (More Power To Ya), but the very definition of 70's POMP. It's like if they were never really up-to-date during the Volz era? Slightly out of touch? It's got that Styx vs. Prism vibe to it only with the typical Petra hook and melody. "It must be like another thorn struck in your brow. It must be like another close friend's broken vow. It must be like another nail right through your wrist. It must be just like, just like Judas' kiss"

2. Not Of This World
"We are strangers, We are aliens. We are not of this world". The eery/space-like anthem that actually begins with the previous instrumential track, Visions (Doxology). The multi-layered keyboards, outstanding harmonies, the acoustic guitars. It's Petra pomp meet the 'Wish You Were Here' sound by Pink Floyd and also Joni Mitchell's classic 'Woodstock' song. Recorded in 1984, it's still very much the sound of approx 1976. "We are pilgrims in a strange land. We are so far from our homeland. With each passing day it seems so clear. This world will never want us here. We're not welcome in this world of wrong. We are foreigners who don't belong".

1. Beyond Belief
"There's a higher place to go, beyond belief, beyond belief. Where we reach the next plateau, beyond belief, beyond belief". There's something about the opening semi-acoustic approach of this arena rocker that got me thinking, Hooters? The band, but I do spend quite a lot of time thinking about... ehem. The title track from Petra's most successful album both critically and commercially, gets the prize as best song @RockUnited.com

This list by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The list as a YouTube playlist

Individual lists:

Kimmo Toivonen:

10. Prayer
9. Just Reach Out
8. Armed And Dangerous
7. Creed
6. All The King's Horses
5. Back To The Street
4. Beyond Belief
3. Kenaniah
2. I Need To Hear From You
1. Hit You Where You Live

Martien Koolen:

10. It Is Finished
9. Grave Robber
8. The Coloring Song
7. Creed
6. Judasí Kiss
5. Underneath The Blood
4. This Means War
3. Armed & Dangerous
2. Beyond Belief
1. Jekyll & Hyde

Alan Holloway:

10. Hit You Where You Live
9. Back To The Street
8. Witch Hunt
7. Kenaniah
6. Armed & Dangerous
5. Beat The System
4. All Fired Up
3. Creed
2. Adonai
1. Beyond Belief

 

(c) 2015 RockUnited.Com

 

10. I Need To Hear From You
9. Not Of This World
8. Jekyll & Hyde
7. Kenaniah
6. Judas' Kiss
5. Adonai
4. Hit You Where You Live
3. Creed
2. Armed And Dangerous
1. Beyond Belief