MORE POWER TO YA
After several years of trying to break the rocky ground for those who would follow, seminal Christian rock band, Petra finally hit the big time with More Power To Ya. The first several Petra albums (Petra, Come and Join Us, Washes Whiter Than andNever Say Die) saw the band sample many different styles of rock, folk and pop music with unfortunately diverse results. More Power’s predecessor, Never Say Die, hinted at what was to follow, and despite containing Petra’s first huge radio hit (The Coloring Song), it did not match MPTY’s complete quality.
Lead singer Greg Volz, who joined the band full-time on Never Say Die, really took MPTY to a different level vocally. With Bradley Delp (Boston) style vocals, singer with power and passion in the upper register, MPTY put Petra on par with secular contemporaries Styx, Boston, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, etc. This was “Corporate Rock” at its best.
The album kicks of with Stand Up, a rock anthem that would remain a Petra favorite for the following decade. This song would also continue Petra’s lyrical obsession with the Spiritual Warfare theme, a concept that could not be missed on MPTY’s album artwork.
MPTY also includes one the longest running hit songs in Christian music history with its title track. The single became a staple on the burgeoning Christian pop radio format. Though it didn’t duplicate The Coloring Song’s unmatched feat of being the Number One song on Christian pop, inspirational and rock formats all at the same time, it may have lasted longer on regular rotation than any other Petra song. The worship-like anthem would also hint at Petra’s future of creating and recording popular worship music.
A little controversy followed the release with the obvious use of backward masking to start of the classic rock single, Judas Kiss. At the time it was quite popular to hear Christian evangelists barnstorming against rock music and the alleged use of “backward masking” by Satanic rock artists to subliminally infect the unknowing minds of the day’s youth. Every rock artists from Led Zeppelin and the Beatles to Madonna and Boy George were accused of using a process by which a message is implanted into the grooves of the record in a backwards format where the brain would supposedly reverse the message and drive the day’s youth to worship Satan.
Christian artists, especially those of the rock variety, were not immune to the accusations and more than a handful of Churches and Youth organizations held rallies and bonfires to destroy these purveyors of the Devil’s music. The list included, of course, Stryper, Resurrection Band, Petra and even Pop Princess Amy Grant and Church superstar Sandy Patti!
Petra responded to the accusations by placing a blatant backward recording as an introduction to the song Judas Kiss. When played backwards, the message stated “What are you looking for the Devil for, when you ought to be looking for the Lord!” The message was not lost on Petra and Christian Rock fans all around the country as it was believed that someone finally stood up to this ridiculous claim of televangelist and youth Pastors. And the song rocked!
The entire record was filled with rock gems, power ballads and the incredible bluesy “All Over Me.” It would be hard to find anyone who found the lyrics MPTY to be objectionable, or even creative for that matter. So, why is it included in this list?
First, it was probably the first authentically rock album to become a huge sales success. This opened the doors for many small and independent labels to find distribution for their music and young kids and adults all over the country were seemingly overnight introduced to Christian Music that rocked.
Second, nearly every song on MPTY charted either on rock, pop or inspirational charts. The songwriting was really good on this record, this can’t be denied. We may look back now and complain the record was corporate rock and derivative, but at the time it was a breath of fresh air in a music landscape dominated by Amy Grant, Evie, Bill Gaither and Sandy Patti. The kids in Youth Groups around the country needed a band they could call their own. Rez Band just wasn’t safe enough to play at Wednesday Night Bible Study, but Petra walked that fine line of being just cool enough for the kids and safe enough for mom and dad.
Fourth, the album had exceptional production values for the time. During this time in CCM many albums were made on shoestring budgets and could not compete sonically with their secular counterparts. MPTY did not suffer from this same ailment. It could compete on many levels with whatever else was out there, and that forced the Christian Music industry to focus on not just making great music, but great albums.
Finally, the band’s popularity made it possible for other artists like DC Talk, Audio Adrenaline and the Newsboys to find an easier path onto Christian bookstore shelves and onto Christian radio playlists. MPTY was not ground breaking in regards to creativity, originality and door busting rock sounds, but it did pave a path for those that followed to reach the ultimate gate keepers to the today’s Christian Youth…the Youth Pastor.
Besides all that…it really is a good record!