SARAYA

Country USA

Style Hard Rock

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Saraya were an American hard rock band, based in New Jersey and featuring singer Sandi Saraya, guitarist Tony “Bruno” Rey, keyboardist Gregg Munier, bassist Gary Taylor, and drummer Chuck Bonfante. The band is best known for their song “Love Has Taken Its Toll,” and for being one of the few female-fronted rock bands of the 1980s.

In 1987, Sandi Saraya and keyboardist Gregg Munier began performing under the name Alsace Lorraine. They would eventually travel to Los Angeles in search of stardom, changing their name to Saraya, because Sandi was the face of the band. After a short stint in LA, the band would return to New Jersey where Saraya and Munier would spend the next year writing material for their debut album. Later in 1987, Saraya and Munier would be joined by former Danger Danger guitarist Tony “Bruno” Rey, bassist Gary Taylor, and drummer Chuck Bonfante.

Musically, Saraya had a straight-forward hard rock style coupled with heavy metal riffs and passionate singing that made the band fit in well in the late 80s hair metal scene. While they lacked the punch of many of the heavier hair metal acts of the day, Saraya’s music was not bubblegum-flavored pop metal. The group was influenced by the female-powered rock & roll of Pat Benetar, Heart, and The Pretenders, and Sandi Saraya’s heart-felt vocals elevated their music above the commercial fray. Her singing never came across as shallow or manufactured, a fact that won the Saraya many loyal fans.

Saraya released their self-titled debut on PolyGram Records in 1989. Executives at PolyGram hoped to eventually develop Sandi Saraya into a sex symbol, making her the “NextBon Jovi”. Promoters wanted to establish Saraya as a good rock band and gradually establish Sandi’s sex appeal as the band received more exposure. The debut album saw some success, spending 39 weeks on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 79. Their first single, “Love Has Taken Its Toll” reached No. 64 on the Billboard 100 and their followup “Back to the Bullet” peaked at No. 63.

After the first album, Saraya experienced several lineup changes. Barry Dunaway (Yngwie Malmsteen) replaced Gary Taylor on bass. Munier recorded keyboards and backing vocals on the second album, “When the Blackbird Sings”. Saraya was never about pretty little love songs or a glam image. Take away the vocals and this is still a first rate melodic rock album with strong songs on par with what Tyketto, Von Groove and Giant were releasing at the time. Of course, Saraya’s vocals make them that much more impressive. She has a great voice that’s anything but light, adding real power and emotion. When the Blackbird Sings has a somewhat darker, more blues rocking vibe than the debut, which really suits Saraya’s vocals. You can hear it especially on the rawkin’ “Hitchin’ a Ride” and “Lion’s Den.”

Gregg Munier died on February 3, 2006, at the age of 44, from complications from pneumonia. He is survived by his two sons, Shayne and Lucas. Tony Bruno has been the most prolific of all the band members, playing, writing and recording with, as well as producing, many prominent artists in the music industry, from Joan Jett to Enrique Iglesias to Rihanna. In October 2010, Saraya planned to reunite for the Firefest Music Festival in the UK. Issues between Sandi Saraya and the Firefest Team, however, prevented the band from performing at the festival.

SARAYA_SARAYA SARAYA_WTBSINGS

– Saraya [1989]
– When The Blackbird Sings [1991]

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SARAYA, 9.5 out of 10 based on 4 ratings