Petra at 50: Double Take (2000)


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 nineteenth studio album, and twentieth overall, 2000’s Double Take.

The Backstory

By any measurable standard, it is fair to say that as the world breathed a sigh of relief that the planet didn’t explode because of Y2K, Petra was running on proverbial fumes. Roster turnover had taken its toll on the band. Just who was Petra now? A change in musical styles had been less than enthusiastically received by passionate fans, casual fans, and radio. Just what was Petra now? And where were they going and what were they going to be?

Petra had one album left on their deal with Word Records and there was no guarantee of what was in store for the band after that. There was discussion about another live record, but that was nixed with cost being one factor. Instead, in lieu of the band’s dearth of radio hits over the past several years, Petra decided to run several of their old hits back in a new, more modern, and hopefully more radio-friendly style. John Schlitt said the purpose of this album was “to reintroduce [these songs] to a generation that never heard any of these songs.”

In addition, Trent Thomason came on as the new keyboardist, while Kevin Brandow moved on.

Album Overview

Double Take features twelve songs, ten of which are remakes of Petra classics and the other two are new. The arrangements are more acoustic, with some including orchestration from the Nashville String Machine. Gone is any semblance of heavy drums. Most of the mixes of old hits are intentionally lower and sung in minor keys. It makes for a jarring musical experience for those so familiar with the classics. The album won a Grammy for Best Rock Gospel Album.

My Origin Story

I have no recollection of when and where I first heard this album, other than it wasn’t long after it came out in 2000. The album did not leave much of a positive impression at the outset so I didn’t play it very much. That’s probably why my memory is fuzzy.

Album Information

  • Released: February 29, 2000
  • Album Length: 51:55
  • Label: Word, Epic
  • Producers: John Elefante and Dino Elefante
  • The Band: John Schlitt (lead vocals); Pete Orta (lead guitars, background vocals, lead vocals – 9); Trent Thomason (keyboards); Lonnie Chapin (bass, background vocals); Louie Weaver (drums)
  • Additional musicians: Larry Hall (keyboards); George Marinelli, Jr. (guitars); Brian Wooten (guitars); Eric Darken (percussion); Terry McMillan (harmonica solo); Russell Mauldin (string arrangements and conductor); The Nashville String Machine (strings); John Elefante (background vocals)
  • Production
    • Bob Hartman – executive producer
    • John Elefante – producer, vocal recording
    • Dino Elefante – producer
    • J.R. McNeely – engineer, mixing (2, 4, 9, 10)
    • David Hall – mixing (1, 3, 5-8, 11, 12)
    • Robert Charles – assistant engineer
    • Todd Gunnerson – assistant engineer
    • Thomas Johnson – assistant engineer
    • Hank Williams – mastering at MasterMix, Nashville, Tennessee
    • Beth Lee – art direction
    • Brian Smith – design
    • Anderson Thomas Design, Inc. – design
    • PhotoDisc – photography


1. “Judas’ Kiss” (4:05) – The album starts with one of the band’s most famous songs, but absent the bask masking open for which it was partly known. That’s fine, as it was never an integral part of the song to begin with. Gone is one of Hartman’s best known guitar riffs, here is a shuffling rhythm that would come to characterize many of the songs on this album. There is also some harmonica on this one, which is actually a nice touch. Of all the remakes on the album, this is one of the best done. That said, the shuffling percussion really doesn’t match the feel of the song, which again, will be a recurring theme.

2. “The Coloring Song” (3:28) – One of Petra’s first hits, with words by David Eden, brought over with Greg X. Volz from his E Band days. This is the best remake on the album. John Schlitt is singing this differently than Volz did, definitely lower in the first couple of verses. The third verse he comes in sounding like the more familiar Schlitt. And then there are times you hear him singing the high and low parts. The guitar is steely acoustic. The rest of the music is unremarkable. I like what Schlitt brings to this song, however. Again, probably the best remake on the album.

3. “Dance” (3:39) – Could the album have ended after track two? Because this is where you really begin to see a precipitous drop in quality. Petra takes a rocking standout track from the Unseen Power album and puts something together that definitely doesn’t make you want to dance. The shuffling rhythm from the first track is back again. The musical choices with both the instruments and how Schlitt sings this just do not work for this song. It’s very hard for me to listen to this song and enjoy it because I love the original so much. 

4. “Beyond Belief” (4:22) – When I was listening to album a few times to prepare to write this, I had a Note open on my phone. By this track I wrote, “I hate this so much.” I’m sorry. This is just utterly unappealing to listen to if you’ve heard the original. Schlitt is singing low. There’s nothing to get excited about here. You’ve got some strings in there, which is interesting in and of itself. Apart from that, it’s taking one of the Mount Rushmore songs in Petra history and turning into soft mush. 

5. “The Longing” (2:56) – The words to this new track come from Joel Hanson of PFR, another one of my very favorite bands, and the lyrics are indeed very good. “Mystery on a hillside, the purest love expressed. Guilty lips cry forgive me, in that moment I found rest. So we search with so few finding, the difference between truth and lies. While in each heart there is a longing, only Jesus satisfies.” The musical style sounds more like a Petra ballad than something like that which has preceded it on this album. A perfectly fine song.

6. “He Came, He Saw” (4:14) – “He Conquered” is removed from the title on Double Take, and it’s appropriate, because this song conquers nothing. Back is the shuffling drums that seem to be the standard for any song on this album that has pace, and by track six it’s getting old and not working. Schlitt sings low on the chorus and I can’t stand it. This is meant to be a victorious war anthem, and it’s nothing of the sort in this version. And I can’t get over it.

7. “Beat the System” (4:34) – Again with the shuffle. Sigh. I do enjoy hearing Schlitt sing some of these Volz era songs. It’s different. And his vocal choices as far as singing high or low are better here than in, say, the last song. So this remake isn’t all bad. To say it’s working would be a stretch, however, which is a shame, because while I enjoy the original I think it suffered a little bit from production choices as well.

8. “This Means War” (5:40) – To quote my Note, “What were they thinking?” They’ve taken another war anthem and absolutely neutered it. Why is this song so slow and low? I’m going to stop on this song right here because I have nothing good to say about it.

9. “Breathe In” (4:57) – The words are by Pete Orta, but not only that. He sings lead, and it’s different to be sure. It’s another perfectly fine song, but it would have been better on another album, like one that wasn’t by Petra. If Petra wanted to not sound like Petra they succeeded here, but this song is just kind of here for me.

10. “Creed” (4:49) – These lyrics come, of course, from the Apostles’ Creed. And these lyrics are bold, even today. The music is not. Schlitt is singing lower for the sake of sounding different from the original, but there is nothing resolute in this song that should be absolutely resolute. Another remake mistake.

11. “Praying Man” (4:30) – I feel like this song at least tries to be good. I love the original. The harmonica is back and it works in this song. Still, the musical arrangement is not really good. In an age in which it seems like every CCM song sounded the same, as did pretty much all pop music at the time, Petra somehow managed to make almost every song in this album sound the same.

12. “Just Reach Out” (4:36) – There’s a bit of the music in this one that sounds like “Send Revival” (which, spoiler alert, I like), which would come a year later in a band that had once again changed greatly by that point. Unfortunately, it’s just more of the same. More shuffling. More low notes. One of Petra’s greatest ballads from the 90s presented in blah.

Ranking the Albums

  1. Unseen Power
  2. This Means War! 
  3. On Fire!
  4. Beyond Belief
  5. More Power To Ya
  6. No Doubt 
  7. Never Say Die 
  8. Come and Join Us
  9. Not Of This World
  10. Back to the Street
  11. Captured In Time And Space
  12. Wake-Up Call 
  13. Beat The System
  14. Petra
  15. Washes Whiter Than
  16. Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus
  17. Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out
  18. God Fixation 
  19. Double Take – I’ll say more below, but this is the worst Petra album ever. I hate to say this about an album from a band I love, but it’s just bad.

The #Petra50

For the second consecutive album there is no change to the top 50. The big difference this time is that no song on this album really comes close to challenging for a spot.

  1. “He Came, He Saw, He Conquered” – from This Means War! (1)
  2. “Enter In” – from No Doubt  (2)
  3. “Creed” – from Beyond Belief (3) 
  4. “More Power To Ya” – from More Power To Ya (4)
  5. “Dance” – from Unseen Power (5)
  6. “Adonai” – from Beat The System (6)
  7. “Whole World” – from Back to the Street (7)
  8. “Grave Robber” – from Not Of This World (8)
  9. “Hit You Where You Live” – from On Fire! (9)
  10. “Chameleon” from Never Say Die (10)
  11. “Love” – from Beyond Belief (11)
  12. “Road to Zion” – from More Power To Ya (12)
  13. “Godpleaser” – from Captured In Time And Space (13)
  14. “Not Of This World” – from Not Of This World (14)
  15. “This Means War” – from This Means War! (15)
  16. “Come and Join Us” – from Come and Join Us (16)
  17. “All Fired Up” – from On Fire! (17)
  18. “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 (18)
  19. “Sight Unseen” – from Unseen Power (19)
  20. “Angel of Light” – from Never Say Die (20)
  21. “Praying Man” – from Wake-Up Call (21)
  22. “No Doubt” – from No Doubt (22)
  23. “Rose Colored Stained Glass Windows” – from More Power To Ya (23)
  24. “Hollow Eyes” – from Beat The System (24)
  25. “Beyond Belief” – from Beyond Belief (25)
  26. “Don’t Let Your Heart Be Hardened” – from This Means War! (26)
  27. “Destiny” – from Unseen Power (27)
  28. “Stand in the Gap” – from On Fire! (28) 
  29. “Hey World” – from Unseen Power (29)
  30. “Heart of a Hero” – from No Doubt (30)
  31. “Fool’s Gold” – from Back to the Street (31)
  32. “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” – from Come and Join Us (32)
  33. “It Is Finished” – from Beat The System (33)
  34. “Woman Don’t You Know” – from Come and Join Us (34) 
  35. “Where Can I Go” – from Come and Join Us (35)
  36. “Not By Sight” – from Not Of This World (36)
  37. “Clean” – from Captured In Time And Space (37)
  38. “King’s Ransom” – from Back to the Street (38)
  39. “First Love” – from On Fire! (39) 
  40. “You Are My Rock” – from This Means War! (40)
  41. “Counsel of the Holy” – from On Fire! (41)
  42. “Midnight Oil” – from Wake-Up Call (42)
  43. “We Need Jesus” – from Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus (43)
  44. “Beat The System” – from Captured In Time And Space (44)
  45. “For Annie” – from Never Say Die (45)
  46. “Magic Mirror” – from Washes Whiter Than (46) 
  47. “The Coloring Song” – from Never Say Die (47)
  48. “Bema Seat” – from Not Of This World (48) 
  49. “Back to the Street” – from Back to the Street (49)
  50. “Get On Your Knees and Fight Like A Man” – from This Means War! (50)

Parting Thought

I don’t feel good about my analysis of this album, but it’s only because I don’t feel good about this album, pretty much at all. The best songs are passable at best, and that’s a shame for Petra. And it pretty much verifies to me that by 2000 whoever votes for Grammys was just mailing it in. I love the band and always have, but in this era it just wasn’t Petra. I understand that a lot of my opinion here is colored by my love for the original songs. So be it. That’s the risk you take in doing an album where 5/6 of the songs are remakes. Petra was in desperation mode trying to maintain relevance and continue finding a new audience, but to do that you have to be excellent, and I would argue that the previous two albums had declined in excellence, and in this one it’s completely lacking. There is a reason I don’t remember much about this album. It’s because I very rarely, if ever, played it after the first couple go arounds in 2000, and it’s highly likely I’ll rarely play it going forward. It bugs me. I don’t like it. You can listen to the entire album here. Maybe your opinion will be different.

Thankfully, things would get better. A revival of sorts, you might say.

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