Whilst not breaking any new ground in terms of style or originality (melodic late 80’s AOR hard rock with keyboards) Saraya’s debut album is certainly not without its moments. Having a female front the band made them stand out a bit from the mass of other all girl bands around this time (Poison, Warrant) etc, although Saraya’s songs are much more likeable than the output of those two bands, and musically, they were certainly a better band. The first thing you notice about the band is the sexy Sandi Saraya and her sultry voice. Smoking hot. With a name like Saraya, I always assumed she was half Japanese ? Right ? Wrong ? The other notable feature of the band is guitarist Tony ‘Bruno’ Ray, who in the years following Saraya ended up playing with Joan Jett and Ricky Martin. Saraya hailed from Noo Joysey and were around from 87-91, releasing this, their debut album in 1989. The album opens with the rockin‘ ‘Love Has Taken It’s Toll ’ a tune which gained heavy MTV rotation in the States. It’s catchy, melodic and if Bon Jovi had of penned it – it may have been a big hit. Sandi has a strong voice – nothing lightweight about it, as evidenced by ‘Back To The Bullet’ a catchy, mid tempo number that has plenty of appeal. I remember seeing the video for this and thinking it was a good song – but being turned off my Tony Bruno’s heavy metal guitar heroics, particularly on the solo. Did he twirl the guitar round his back ? Is he wearing a leather jacket with fringe ? I can’t recall. It’s a bit cheesy. Great tune though. I saw Bruno playing guitar a number of times with the Blackhearts and thought he filled Ricky Byrd’s shoes very well. He looked cool, he played great. ‘Healing Touch’ has that big Bon Jovi keyboard sound that spelt stadium rock –with Sandi belting out the vocals. Good tune. ‘Get U Ready’ is a bit contrived but is saved by a ballsy Sandi vocal. She really belts this one out. There is a beautiful 50 second piano piece called ‘Alsace Lorraine’, which is a nice inclusion and an interlude away from the style of the other tunes. Some points for originality for including something like this on their album. ‘Fire To Burn’ is also likeable mid tempo melodic hard rock, and the ballad, ‘St. Christopher’s medal’ has a simple charm that makes it one of the album’s best tracks. Nice lyrics that paint a picture. Polygram were banking on Saraya to be the next Bon Jovi, yet they never achieved that level of success despite a couple of good, solid, melodic hard rock albums – and therein lay the problem – they were good albums – but they lacked the clout of the 1st division hard rock bands of that period. They were just too non descript (yet so too were 2nd division bands like Tyketto, XYZ, Danger Danger, TNT, Hurricane, Femme fatale etc). 7 out of 10. This post is dedicated to Saraya’s keyboard player Gregg Munier, who passed away on February 3, 2006, at the age of 44.