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JFH Music Review

Petra, 'Back to the Street'

Back to the Street

Artist Info: Discography
Album length: 10 tracks: 40 minutes, 51 seconds
Street Date: 1986


Petra's Back to the Street came at a time of transition for the band. Ushering in a new singer, John Schlitt, came with its challenges, but Bob Hartman did not skip a beat and continued to make great songs while learning how to adjust to the new singer.

The title track is a high point for the album, as the driving, upbeat intro gives way to a burning chorus, until it mixes the two for the next verse, all while pleading us to spread the Word of God "to the streets." "You Are I Am" sings about God's dominion "from the top of the mountains to the bottom of the sea" using a driving guitar and a complex chord structure.

"Shakin' the House" was one of the most popular, but one of my least favorites. It has a great message, but less energy than the other rockers, although the drum groove is phenomenal. "King's Ransom" features Schlitt's powerful, emotional vocals regarding the death of Christ to save us from our sins. Side One ends with "Whole World," based off of the popular children's song, which has incredible harmonies in the chorus and grooving verses.

Side Two leads off with the burning, complex, and passionate "Another Crossroad," featuring a standout synth solo, all about being able to trust Jesus with our difficult decisions. "Run for Cover" is rather unappealing, but has some cool harmonies in the chorus about running back to Jesus after entering a dangerous world.

"Fool's Gold" is one of my favorites, featuring a clean guitar and incredible vocal work from Schlitt, a favorite line being "I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man than a fool in the eyes of God." "Altar Ego" is probably Petra at near rock bottom on this album, with a forgettable synth riff and lyrical work.

Finally, the ultra well-known "Thankful Heart" rounds out the album, and is an incredibly emotional song thanking God for his work and for a heart that can appreciate it. Personally, I believe it is slightly overhyped, but it is still fantastic, especially the grand piano in the verses.

Back to the Street by Petra requires context of the times. Bob Hartman understood the heavy guitar riff was becoming more prominent for AOR by albums like Knee Deep in the Hoopla, while synths were still highly regarded as well. John Schlitt's work only went up from here, however.

JFH Reader Review: Review date: 2/3/23, written by Cody C. for

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. Record Label: StarSong
. Album length: 10 tracks: 40 minutes, 51 seconds
. Street Date: 1986
. Buy It:

  1. Back to the Street (4:16)
  2. You Are I Am (3:11)
  3. Shakin the House (4:29)
  4. King's Ransom (4:20)
  5. Whole World (4:51)
  6. Another Crossroad (3:51)
  7. Run for Cover (3:16)
  8. Fool's Gold (4:46)
  9. Altar Ego (4:45)
  10. Thankful Heart (3:18)



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