Beat the System

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Petra has always been the sort of Christian Contemporary band that sees its purpose in making music as a ministry for the impressionable teens and pre-teens that make up such a large percentage of the market for Top 40 music. In 1984, the kids were listening to keyboard-dominated techno-pop, and Petra (the band name means "rock" in Greek), were willing to toss aside their reputation as a religious rock & roll band in order to hit their audience where they had taken up residence. On the opening two tracks, "Beat the System" and "Computer Brains," songwriter and lead guitarist Bob Hartman seems to explain the new space-age sound by setting up a lyrical motif about resisting robotic conformity to the worldly and sinful: "Computer brains programming you. Computer brains, what can you do? Break out." But the theme disappears after the first two songs and is replaced with a hodgepodge of Christianese cliches. On "It is Finished": "The work had been done, redemption had been won." On "Voice in the Wind": "There's a voice in the wind that calls your name, if you listen you'll never be the same." On "Clean": "Like a spotless lamb I'm blameless in His sight with no trace of wrong left or right." The album includes a cover of the 1973 Russ Ballard classic "God Gave Rock and Roll to You," which would seem to be a perfect manifesto for Petra, except that Beat the System is not a rock & roll record; it's techno-pop.

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