Petra at 50: Captured in Time and Space (1986)


In celebration of Petra turning fifty years old in 2022, here at I am going album by album through their discography and reflecting on the role their music has played in my life. In this post my focus is Petra’s eighth album, and first live album, Captured in Time and Space, recorded in November 1985 and released in 1986.

The Backstory

Petra had been on a roll with More Power To Ya in 1982 and Not Of This World in 1983. They went from being an opening act on the periphery of contemporary Christian music, with a couple of radio hits, to being the big Grammy nominated act on successful tours. Beat The System, recorded in late 1984 and released in January 1985, only continued the momentum. Behind the scenes, however, things were not quite as rosy as they seemed.

As was mentioned in the last post, lead singer Greg X. Volz and producer Jonathan David Brown would depart the band. In fact, to the best of my understanding in looking at the history, John Schlitt was already on board to put up the mantle. More will be said about that in the next post, but for the time being, one big piece of business remained. The Beat The System tour was wrapping up with three dates on November 21–23, 1985, in Knoxville, TN, Greenville, SC, and Columbia, SC, respectively. Those concerts would be recorded and a special album and video would be released: Captured In Time And Space.

Album Overview

If you read my post on Beat The System, you know I feel the album has some great songs, but production of the album diminished it several ways. While I think it’s a positive that Petra and Jonathan David Brown were moving on from one another, Brown was still on board for production of this live endeavor. To his and the band’s credit, Captured In Time And Space gets right much of what Beat The System got wrong. In fact, almost everything from that album which is included on this live album sounds better than the original.

Perhaps the enduring legacy of this album is that, coming out in 1986 after Volz had left the band, it serves as a bridge between two eras, and an album which serves as an introduction to a later generation of Petra fans (like me) of what Petra did in the “early years.” This album is a fantastic representation of this era of Petra, and I only have one giant nit to pick, but I’ll get to that below.

My Origin Story

How I came about owning this one is a bit muddy in my memory. To the best of my recollection, a friend of mine had this one before I did and I made a copy from his. I’m pretty sure I owned this one before owning a copy of Beat The System, but I can’t say for sure. I can say with certainty that I had it by 2001, when my Petra library was completed.

Album Information

  • Released: 1986
  • Recorded: November 21, 1985 (Knoxville, TN – Knoxville Civic Auditorium), November 22, 1985 (Greenville, SC – Greenville Municipal Auditorium), November 23, 1985 (Columbia, SC – Township Auditorium)
  • Album Length: 62:55
  • Label: StarSong, A&M
  • The Band: Bob Hartman (electric, acoustic, and synthesized guitars, backing vocals); Greg X. Volz (lead vocals); John Lawry (keyboards, backing vocals); Mark Kelly (bass guitar, keyboard bass, backing vocals); Louie Weaver (acoustic and electronic drums)
  • Producer: Jonathan David Brown
  • Special CD Editor: Tim Norris
  • Recording: 
    • Remote recording facilities: Reelsound Recording Co. (Austin, TX)
    • Assistant Engineers and Setup Crew: Malcolm Harper, Mason Harlow, and Gordon Garrison
    • Re-recording: Fireside Studios (Nashville, TN) 
    • Re-mixing: Mama Jo’s Recording Studio (North Hollywood, CA)
    • Assisting: Todd Van Etten
    • Editing: Rivendell Recorders (Pasadena, TX, with thanks to Chuck Sugar, Bret Hurst, and Steve Dady)


Before I get into the individual tracks, it should be obvious that covering this album is different than any album before it and most after it, because practically all of the songs have been covered already, so for most of these there isn’t much to say. Also, I will approach the tracks as they appeared on the original vinyl, inasmuch as medleys will be covered as a whole and not as individual tracks.

  1. “Beat The System” (4:23) – This one starts with somebody announcing the band, followed by a keyboard intro, then a sharp change into the intro to this song similar to that of the album, with the telephone tones and all. When the music starts you can immediately hear the difference in the drums and guitar. The drums are deeper, the guitar louder. Mark Kelly’s bass is also coming through better than on the original album. I like practically everything about this version of the song better than the original.

2. “Computer Brains” (3:42) – Everything I said about the previous song applies here as well. You might get bored reading this, but it just sounds so much richer than the original. Unfortunately, you do get some of those “garbage in, garbage out” sound effects in this version as well, but overall it’s far superior. The ending has that similar computer crashing effect.

3. “Clean” (3:02) – I mentioned in my review of BTS that this was the first song on that album that really sounded like Petra, so you can imagine given that statement and what I’ve said regarding the two previous tracks what I have to say about this one. Hartman’s guitar is better here, but the drums are especially superior to the original here. Just a great song.

4. “Grave Robber” (4:22) – This is the first non-Beat The System song. Great song on the album, great song on this concert album. I like how Volz holds out the note on “dies” at the end of the first chorus. A great live version of this classic song.

5. “Speak to the Sky” (4:29) – This song sounds much better on this live album. I pointed out in my review of the original that the song was just kind of there on the album, and that the music was uneven. I really don’t care for the intro to the original. It sound much better with a guitar here.

6. “Hollow Eyes” (4:00) – John Lawry gives personal testimony of being abandoned as an orphan in Japan and then being adopted by missionaries to enter this song. It’s worth noting that this concert happens now after “We Are The World” and after Farm Aid, the latter of which Lawry references. This may be the song that sounds closest to the original, but in this case that’s not a bad thing. I do appreciate the deep bell like sounds from the keyboard at the end, as if to communicate that the time is now for believers to help those who need help, because time might be running out for them. 

7. “The Rock Medley” [“Stand Up” / “Not By Sight” / “Judas’ Kiss”] (6:17) – Petra is well known for doing something many musical acts have done and will always do; namely, playing some shortened up crowd pleasing older hits in the form of a medley. This is the first of three such medleys in this concert. Each song included in this medley is great and sounds good. “Not By Sight” stands out to me here. 

8. “The Mellow Medley” [“The Coloring Song” / “Road to Zion” / “More Power To Ya”] (4:39) – Petra brings it down here with what is, as far as radio charts are concerned, their biggest hit, “The Coloring Song.” Then, after one verse and chorus of “Road,” it’s “More Power To Ya.” The latter of the three stands out in this medley.

9. “John’s Solo” [“Jesus Loves You” / “The Race”] (3:42) – When Petra fans think about this album, they often start with this section. As the mellow medley fades out John Lawry’s keyboard gets going. After a bit he stops, then we hear human voices coming out of his keyboard until we clearly hear “Jesus loves you.” He continues making music with the voices until finally we hear those words clearly again and drawn out. Then he breaks into another solo known as “The Race.” It is a very entertaining listen.

10. “Bob’s Solo” (2:34) – As Lawry conclude Bob Hartman’s guitar slowly picks up. What we get is two-and-a-half minutes of the master just enjoying his craft. Awesome guitar solo.

11. “Louie’s Solo (2:13) – Hartman concludes with Weaver’s drums joining in. Then, we hear Volz say, “Let’s get into it,” and Weaver’s drums take over. After about a minute of banging, he changes into a rhythm and you begin to hear some electric drums joining in. 

12. “God Gave Rock and Roll To You” (2:01) – In the recording of the album it sounds like there’s a bit of a cut here as Lawry’s keyboard starts and Petra does a shortened form of their Beat The System version of this hit. I will say that I like the live version better than the album version, but still not better than the Come and Join Us rendition.

13. “The Praise Medley” [“Let Everything That Hath Breath” / “Without Him We Could Do Nothing” / “Praise Ye the Lord” / “Hallelujah Chorus”] (8:23) – The album is getting to its apex now. Whereas the other two medleys are good, I think this one is superb. While the listener doesn’t get any of the songs in their completed forms, they just belong together and flow wonderfully. The first three songs, two from Never Say Die, and the first from More Power To Ya, are all written by Volz, if you recall, they are his praise rock trilogy. The band never sounds better on this album than during this medley, including the vocals during “Praise Ye the Lord.” Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how that third song transitions. Hartman’s guitar picks up and Volz belts out, “And He shall reign forever and ever!” The “Hallelujah Chorus” is a wonderful capper.

14. “Godpleaser” (5:06) – The conclusion of “Hallelujah” fades into “Visions (Doxology)” from the Not Of This World album. Then, it’s “Godpleaser.” As I wrote the first time I covered this song, I really like it as one of my personal favorites, but I wasn’t in love with the production of the 1983 version. This one is definitely superior, with a bit more rock to it. The drums are louder and Hartman’s guitar comes through much clearer. The song always feels as if it has a bit more pace. It just works better than the original, in my humble opinion.

15. “It Is Finished” (4:05) – After an interlude in which Volz invites attendees to pray to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior, is there any other way this concert would end? 

Ranking the Albums

  1. More Power To Ya
  2. Never Say Die 
  3. Come and Join Us
  4. Not Of This World
  5. Captured In Time And Space – It’s hard to know where to rank a live album compared to studio albums. Live albums have the advantage of having more songs, playing the hits not only from the current tour but also from previous albums. This album certainly has that going for it. For that reason I set the bar pretty high for putting a live album ahead of studio albums. This one has several songs which sound better performed live than their studio album versions. I’d say most of the Beat The System songs and “Godpleaser” fall into that category. For that reason I place CITAS right here.
  6. Beat The System
  7. Petra
  8. Washes Whiter Than

The #Petra50

So how do songs from the live album, which have previously been introduced, get spots on this list. Well, since this is purely subjective I get to make the rules and occasionally bend them. If I include a song from a previous album, the original song will drop off the list. For example, I clearly liked the live version of “Beat The System” better than the album version, so the live version stays and the original goes. This is also a way songs can move up the list. For example, the original “Beat The System” was ranked 20 in the last post. Do I like the live version better than songs before it? What about the medleys? Well, see below. Let’s just say some songs may move up with some help from the medleys. Also, I chose not to include any of the solos, though I love them.

  1. “More Power To Ya” – from More Power To Ya (1)
  2. “Adonai” – from Beat The System (2)
  3. “Grave Robber” – from Not Of This World (3)
  4. “Chameleon” from Never Say Die (4)
  5. “Road to Zion” – from More Power To Ya (5)
  6. “Godpleaser” – from Captured In Time And Space (17 – original version) – A personal favorite, and this live version is superior to the original.
  7. “Not Of This World” – from Not Of This World (6)
  8. “Come and Join Us” – from Come and Join Us (7)
  9. “The Praise Medley [“Let Everything That Hath Breath” / “Without You We Could Do Nothing” / “Praise Ye The Lord” / “Hallelujah Chorus”] – from Captured In Time And Space – I heaped adulation upon this medley above. By including it in the list the first three songs in the medley are taken out. That moves some songs below up in the list.
  10. “Angel of Light” – from Never Say Die (8)
  11. “Rose Colored Stained Glass Windows” – from More Power To Ya (9)
  12. “Hollow Eyes” – from Beat The System (10)
  13. “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” – from Come and Join Us (11)
  14. “It Is Finished” – from Beat The System (12)
  15. “Woman Don’t You Know” – from Come and Join Us (15) 
  16. “Where Can I Go” – from Come and Join Us (16)
  17. “Not By Sight” – from Not Of This World (18)
  18. “Clean” – from Captured In Time And Space (19 – original version) – As stated above, the original version is good, but this one is better.
  19. “Beat The System” – from Captured In Time And Space (20 – original version) – See “Clean.”
  20. “For Annie” – from Never Say Die (21)
  21. “Magic Mirror” – from Washes Whiter Than (23) 
  22. “The Coloring Song” – from Never Say Die (24)
  23. “Bema Seat” – from Not Of This World (25) 
  24. “Magic Words”- from Washes Whiter Than (26)
  25. “Why Should the Father Bother?” – from Washes Whiter Than (27)
  26. “Walkin’ in the Light” – from Petra (28)
  27. “Killing My Old Man” – from Never Say Die (29)
  28. “Stand Up” – from More Power To Ya (30)
  29. “Morning Star” – from Washes Whiter Than (31)
  30. “Second Wind” – from More Power To Ya (32)
  31. “Mary’s Song” – from Washes Whiter Than (33)
  32. “Blinded Eyes” – from Not Of This World (34)
  33. “I Can Be Friends With You” – from Never Say Die (35)
  34. “Get Back to the Bible” – from Petra (36)
  35. “Yahweh Love” – from Petra (37)
  36. “Lucas McGraw” – from Petra (38)
  37. “Backslidin’ Blues” – from Petra (39)

Parting Thought

Most Petra fans who are a little bit older than me consider the Greg X. Volz era the band’s high water mark. It’s not hard to see why. He performed on Come and Join Us, was practically a member for Washes Whiter Than, and then was lead vocalist for Never Say DieMore Power To YaNot Of This World, and Beat The System – and of course, Captured In Time And Space. You’d be hard-pressed to find a four or five album run that great from any musical artist period, much less Christian pop/rock. Of course, Petra would have another great in them, but we’ll get that soon.

Volz left Petra and would not really be associated with the band against for the next two decades. But what a way to go out! Captured In Time And Space is a great live album, a great representation of what it was like to see the band live. I never saw this version of Petra, but several aspects of the show are familiar to me, and the music is just great. You can check it out here.

I do have one big nitpick with this album. WHERE IS ADONAI? Bob Hartman writes about how “Adonai” is a song which added professionalism to their concerts? Well, where was it? I would have loved that addition to this concert and album.

Big changes were already afoot with Petra. I’ll talk more about them in the next post, in which I’ll take a look at Back to the Street.

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