"Are you John Schlitt?" "You know it - the one and only!"
July 10, 2013 8:13 PM   Subscribe

For Petra fans: The Making Of Back To The Street. A 3 minute excerpt from a 30 minute home video documenting the making of the 1986 album. Includes a brief tour of the studio and accommodation, and features (at 1:02) some isolated vocal and instrumental tracks from the song 'Whole World'.
posted by paleyellowwithorange (12 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Oh man. When I was 8, I found my mom's Petra tape in her car and gave it a listen, and it grabbed a foothold in my sheltered brain and I remained a die-hard fan for at least the next 4-5 years. She bought me my first Discman at age 10, and Beyond Belief was the first CD I listened to on it. Later, I had the VHS that came out at the same time as Unseen Power, so I knew all about Louie Weaver's tennis-racket-grip-tape-wrapped drumsticks and love of Mickey Mouse.

My love of Petra led my uncle to give me a Dream Theater CD, because "the singer sounds kind of the same." That set me down a whole musical path that continues today.

My mom passed away a few months ago, and I've recently been mentally revisiting all those different periods of my life and taking stock of the incredible influence she had on me. This post was a wonderful opportunity to rediscover yet another way she helped shape me. Thanks for stirring up fond memories.
posted by TheCowGod at 8:45 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

TIL that I don't even know the famous Christian rock bands.
posted by ShakeyJake at 9:52 PM on July 10, 2013

It took me so long to escape the mind virus that affected my mother, which led me - forced me - to be a part of the Christian rock pseudo metal enterprise that Petra represents.

Maybe they are decent people. Surely my mother had the best intentions.

But fuck Petra and fuck the fake rock and roll they engendered.

At 13, David Bowie was all I needed to leave this planet. To become something greater than myself.

At 13 fuck you for taking away my ability to be someone else. To be who I wanted. To simply be me.

The last moment before civilization fails will be the moment we realize you've robbed us of everything.
posted by four panels at 10:00 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hence my "For Petra fans" opening gambit.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 10:05 PM on July 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oh, man. My first concert. February 21, 1985. Petra. Proof.

I was 13. Their lead singer was a guy named Greg X Volz and they were touring an album called Beat The System. I was way into synth at the time and Petra delivered on that count, while also holding it down with some decent guitar riffs. And Volz could wail ... I'm talking that old school Jesus Christ Superstar Ted Neeley kind of wail.

And while I get it, I understand and remember all too well the re-packaging and watering-down of rock and roll to corner an otherwise restrictive market, there was something for more genuine about Petra. Maybe it was that they'd been at it for about as long as I'd been alive, a band that came out of the meshing of prog rock and Jesus People in the early 70s.

But the thing is, as protective as my folks were, I had friends in high school, my little curious clique that introduced me to The Beatles, to a metric ton of hair metal, to Alice Cooper. And I had the radio to give me Prince, Michael Jackson, Sheila E. In this way, Petra and a handful of other Christian bands were a way to take a growing appreciation of pop and rock and pull it into a context that fit my Methodist Sunday mornings. A way to know that there were adults who had a similar faith to mine and still managed to sing more than just the contents of a hymnal. It let me know that it was okay for me to listen to more than just choir songs.

In other words, my exposure to Christian rock became a bridge to a world outside my church and not the other way around.

And yeah, I'll still listen to Petra on occasion. That one album, anyway.

John Schlitt, by the by, was the lead for Head East before Petra. I guess he was okay when he came on board, as I liked him enough to see the band twice more. But by 1990, they were making relatively preachy videos and hanging out with the likes of Carman, an entity of the CCR set that I came to reject outright as he seemed to reject me, a rejection I recalled back in 2008.
posted by grabbingsand at 10:18 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

My favorite Petra anecdote from a friend who had worked for them as a roadie:

Supposedly Bob Hartman, the lead guitarist, had explained to him that, while of course he could play 64th notes or faster, he had determined to never play anything faster than 32nd notes in his guitar solos lest it distract too much from the message of the music.

(The kid telling the story was a metal-head whose adoration of bands like Stryper seemed fixated entirely on the fact that their guitarists could play lots of notes really fast.)
posted by straight at 12:29 AM on July 11, 2013

'Cause He's still got the whole world in his hands...TONIGHT!
and only He knows where the sparrow lands...TONIGHT!
and nothing in this world can stop His plans...TONIGHT!

posted by straight at 12:34 AM on July 11, 2013

That lyric always perplexed me as a kid. "Why just tonight? What about during the day? What's so special about tonight?"
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 12:36 AM on July 11, 2013

he had determined to never play anything faster than 32nd notes in his guitar solos

Pretty sure he didn't practice what he preached in this regard.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 12:40 AM on July 11, 2013

Believe it or not, Petra were considered too hardcore for the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida. So was Amy Grant, for that matter. We had to content ourselves with Sandi Patty and other such dreck.
posted by Optamystic at 1:31 AM on July 11, 2013

That lyric always perplexed me as a kid. "Why just tonight? What about during the day? What's so special about tonight?"

Hint: the Lord's abs sparkle.
posted by ocschwar at 7:59 AM on July 11, 2013

Here in central Illinois, the Schlitts are local boys. A surreal day for me was when the band my husband and John's brother Jeff were in played a barn party for their grandmother at the Schlitts homestead.
posted by Occula at 8:55 PM on July 11, 2013

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