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  • Writer's pictureJoel Caballero

Back to the Street (1986)

Updated: Jan 3

Back to the Street is the eighth studio album by the Christian rock band Petra, released in the fall of 1986 on Star Song Records.

A change in direction for Petra as out is lead vocalist Greg X. Volz and producer Jonathan David Brown and in is new lead singer John Schlitt and new producers John Elefante and his brother Dino Elefante. Also a change in sound as Petra's rock sound is more arena-rock oriented in the vein of Foreigner and Journey. Their previous rock sound was almost more progressive rock like Yes and Styx and in the beginning, southern rock like Eagles and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Schlitt was the lead singer of the mainstream rock group Head East and John Elefante was the lead singer of the mainstream rock group Kansas featuring Kerry Livgren. While the sound of the album is rather transitional and unlike anything that would be heard by the group for another seven years, it did mark a movement toward the style that would become Petra's most identifiable sound: prominent keyboards backing up hard-edged guitar tones and raspy, near-screaming vocals.

A music video was made for their rock single "Whole World" featuring the new line-up of Schlitt, Bob Hartman, Louie Weaver, Mark Kelly and John Lawry. Back to the Street peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Top Christian Albums chart. Petra earned their third Grammy nomination for Best Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group for Back to the Street at the 29th Grammy Awards and were nominated for Artist of the Year, Group of the Year and Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year for Back to the Street at the 18th GMA Dove Awards.

NOTE: on the title song, John Schlitt does make reference to their 1985 album Beat the System in the bridge section:

"It's not easy to beat the system,

it's not easy to face the heat,

but somebody's got to take this message,

back to the street..."

This is also the last Petra album to feature a guitar-shaped space ship on its cover since their 1981 album Never Say Die. This is the last Petra album to be distributed by Word Records. Albums starting from Washes Whiter Than to On Fire! will be distributed by Capitol Christian Music Group.

Track listing

All songs were written by Bob Hartman, except where noted.

1. Back to the Street -4:17

2. You Are I Am -3:11

3. Shakin' the House (Bob Hartman, John Lawry) -4:29

4. King's Ransom -4:21

5. Whole World -4:52

6. Another Crossroad -3:51

7. Run for Cover -3:17

8. Fool's Gold -4:47

9. Altar Ego -4:46

10. Thankful Heart (Bob Hartman, Dino Elefante) -3:19



Bob Hartman -lead guitar

John Schlitt -lead vocals, backing vocals

Mark Kelly -bass guitar, backing vocals

John Lawry -keyboards, fairlight programming, backing vocals

Louie Weaver -drums

Radio singles

1986 "Back to the Street" -#5 Christian CHR

1986 "Thankful Heart" -#3 Christian CHR, #1 Christian AC

1987 "Whole World" -#13 Christian CHR

1987 "King's Ransom" -#13 Christian CHR, #29 Christian AC

Next release: This Means War! (1987)

Watch the music video of "Whole World" here:

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