Beat the System - 1984 - Star Song
In 1984, Petra got a new Keyboard Player; John Lawry, who replaced John Slick. Ironically, neither keyboardist had a main role as a session player on this record. It was one of the studio players, of whom I don't recall but they laid down some of the best most haunting and powerful keyboard tracks I've ever heard. I believe Lawry did have some overdubs but that is all. Beat The System was a strange album, categorically, as you could call it a "Techno-Arena New Wave Rock" album, but they pulled it off with near perfection! My only gripe is the dated sound of the synthesizers used, but it was 1984. I would venture to say that this record is a legend in CCM.
It starts off with some eerie new wave sounds and breaks out with Bob doing some crazy high pitched riff on his Roland G707 synth guitar. The guitar tone on the album seems a bit muffled and not very edgy, but definitely filled in the gaps and kept the album in rock territory on all but one song. After the title track, the synthesizer gets even more strange with "Computer Brains", a fun rockin' number with some crazy keyboard effects. When it ends, the synthesizer does this awesome cycle-in to "Clean" and the guitar rips in to the first line, "You might see me stumble...you might see me fall!" and Greg gives an amazing vocal performance. The next song, "It is Finished" continues the onslaught of synthesizer, guitar, and amazing vocals. The song ends in an awesome synthesizer/keyboard solo. Then the music mellows out just a bit and the snythesizer takes over to the one of the most haunting performances of Greg Volz yet on "Voice in the Wind".
After 5 songs of melancholy bliss, Petra gets a bit happier for a couple songs and does a new-wave/rock remix of God Gave Rock and Roll To You...of course, full of keyboard goodness. The next song, "Witch Hunt", is a fun rock song about Christians trying to find something to pick on instead of preaching the gospel. Very funny effects and background banter. The song ends with some crazy guitar/synth/beat and twists back into the more minor key stuff Petra was doing the first half of the album with "Hollow Eyes", a very sad sounding song about the "least of these". Then, Petra gets a little brighter one last time with "Speak to the Sky", which has an awesome intro riff that reminds me of bagpipes (and it recurs a few times in the song). Very good performance again by Mr. Volz.
Then, Petra goes back to the more sad/melancholy sounding music with probably one of my top 5 favorite Petra songs of all time: Adonai. Very haunting and powerful song about the God of the universe! The ending features an amazing solo and Greg hitting some amazing high notes.
1. Beat the System
2. Computer Brains
4. It is Finished
5. Voice In the Wind
6. God Gave Rock And Roll to You
7. Witch Hunt
8. Hollow Eyes
9. Speak to The Sky
Greg X. Volz: Vocals
Bob Hartman: All Guitars
John Lawry: Keyboards and Synthesizers
Mark Kelly: Bass
Louie Weaver: Drums