One cannot be a fan of Christian rock from the latter two decades of the 20th Century without having Petra somewhere in the list. As I mentioned in the initial post on my favourite Christian music, Petra was the first album I ever bought.
Their style has consistently been rock, with a strong theme of spiritual warfare. They make heavy use of the Scriptures in their lyrics, and seemed to have a limitless imagination for plays on words. They rendered Caesar's famous quote, "Veni, vidi, vici" (I came, I saw, I conquered) into a song about Jesus called, "He Came, He Saw, He Conquered." I was stunned when I first heard the title to "Killing My Old Man" until a friend (thank you Christa!) explained that it was a reference to the sinful man who dies in baptism, to be reborn anew with Christ in the resurrection. And when they released their first praise & worship album - Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out - they played heavily on the fact that Petra is the Greek rendition of rock, and the passage in Luke 19:40 where Jesus responded to those who told his disciples to stop praising him that "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."
All of my Petra music is on cassette tape, with the exception of their God Fixation album, which I bought on CD and is the most recent one I have. I did have an LP of Greg Volz, who was Petra's original lead vocalist but left the band to start a solo career.
His replacement, John Schlitt, did a concert of some of Petra's best hits in Caronport, SK on January 16, 1991, and that was the first concert I ever went to (the date stuck in my head because it was at the beginning of the first Gulf War). He performed by himself, using recorded tracks of the band's music. I remember how puzzled Schlitt was when the audience demanded an encore, as he hadn't prepared anything. So he simply did the first song in the set over again.
With my journey to Catholicism and discovery of the fathers of the ancient Church, I was naturally drawn to Petra's song "St. Augustine's Pears." It's taken from a passage in St. Augustine's Confessions (which I must confess I've never read) where he recounts how he stole pears from a tree for no other reason than that he could. St. Augustine used that incident from his past to open a vast meditation on the nature of sin in his heart.
I also enjoy this song because of a neat trick they did with dual guitars and stereo channels in the intro. Crank the volume and make sure you're listening in stereo. The effect is magnified if you're wearing headphones.
Here it is - enjoy.