Blues Saraceno: 10 Albums That Changed My Life

Blues Saraceno

Feature Photo: courtesy of Blues Saraceno

As a teenage sensation in the late-80s, Connecticut native Blues Saraceno took the world by storm with the release of his debut record, 1989’s Never Look Back. Sure, the era was loaded with shredders, but the fact that this was a legitimate teenager—who recorded his record in his parent’s garage—made Saraceno stand out.

It didn’t hurt that within a few years, Saraceno had endorsement deals from major guitar manufacturers, had guested on records by Taylor Dayne and Cher, and, oh yeah, hit the road with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker in place of Eric Clapton in a reformed version of Cream.

But Saraceno didn’t stop there. Soon, he brandished his iconic plaid Yamaha RGX820R guitar and, by the mid-90s, was playing guitar for Poison after Richie Kotzen exited the band, which was only cut short by the return of C.C. DeVille, but not before he recorded the underappreciated Crack a Smile… and More! (2000). And in the years since, Saraceno has stayed active, forging a highly successful soundtracking career while keeping up with his shredding licks.

But the best part about Blues Saraceno—aside from his energetic personality and effervescent licks—is the diversity within his music, which comes from the vast array of records that have impacted him over the years. To that end, Blues Saraceno dialed in with ClassicRockHistory.com to dig into the ten albums that changed his life. Can you spot any of your favorites here, too?

100% Cotton by James Cotton (1974)

This is how I like my blues served. It’s raw, and it’s real. The production and sonics are perfect and not too shiny. The boogie shuffles are unmatched. Every player in this band is so on point. This album comes out of the gate swinging and delivers every step of the way. This is the stuff I grew up on. My dad used to play music before he would go to work; I would wake up with this stuff. Highly recommend.

Cowboys From Hell by Pantera (1990)

The Swing, the groove, the heaviness, the riffs, the vocals, the rhythm section, and those solos! Absolute metal perfection. I knew on the very first listen that these guys had lightning in a bottle. They had their own sound, and their execution was absolutely flawless. We used to drive around in my best childhood friend Derek Dudek’s truck and listen to it so loud that we could only talk in between songs.

The Abbot brothers were not only some of the sweetest, kindest, and most fun people to be around, but they brought it every single time, 100%. When it was go time, strap in and get outta the way ’cause it was about to get real serious, real quick! Some of the best live shows I have ever experienced. I don’t think most people even remotely realize how much Pantera has influenced the metal genre. Absolute legends.

Live Johnny Winter And by Johnny Winter (1970)

When Johnny Winter screams “rock ‘n’ roll,” I believe him! This album is a bare-knuckle rock ‘n’ roll brawl! Let’s go! Pure gasoline. I know most people love Johnny Winter for his blues playing, but for me he is one of my absolute favorite rockers. The dude comes out in bellbottoms, platform shoes, a white beard, an Abraham Lincoln top hat, and a freakin’ cape for good measure; I mean, come on!

The way he attacks the guitar is relentless. Great line up on this album as well, these fellas were up to the task at hand. Johnny’s voice was built to rock. The first song I ever played live was “Johnny B Goode,” and we aren’t talking about the Chuck Berry version. My dad showed me the Johnny Winter version, and I used to get up with his bar band and play it as best I could!

At Fillmore East by The Allman Brothers Band (1971)

If ever there were an absolutely perfect example of a live Southern rock and soul record, this is it. You are hearing a band at the absolute top of their game. The guitar work is so melodic and fluid, and you hear two legends complement each other perfectly. The guitar tones are perfect!

So much character and style, and not a single note out of place, but so spontaneous. I can’t even fathom how music can be this good. This is my father’s absolutely favorite band and album, and it is woven into the fabric of my life. I was listening to this album when I was an infant! If this album doesn’t move you, I am not sure we can be buddies.

Read More: Complete List Of Allman Brothers Band Albums

Havin’ A Bad Day by Dweezil Zappa (1986)

I asked my parents to drive me to New York City so I could buy this album! I had read about it in a guitar magazine, and I wanted to hear it so bad. I remember hearing “Electric Hoedown” and thinking, “Yeah, this guy gets it!” I was instantly impressed by how Dweezil’s guitar approach was always unique and wild. He didn’t just color in the lines and wasn’t afraid to take a chance.

Years later, as luck would have it, we were scheduled to play at a Randy Rhoads tribute concert together, and when we met, we realized we had each other’s solo albums, and we hit it off from there. So, this album is dear to me because not only is it a masterclass in kick-ass guitar wizardry, but it represents the start of a long-term friendship that I value very much.

The Hard Way by Point Blank (1980)

My guitar playing has been so influenced by this album. The guitar work of Rusty Burns and Kim Davis is a masterclass in tone, technique, and taste. This is some Grade A, kick-ass Southern rock at its finest. I especially loved the live boogie stuff. I liked this album so much that I actually reached out to Rusty Burns just to tell him that I thought he was one bad MoFo on the geetar.

He was super nice and told me that when they did that album, they borrowed a 50-watt Marshall from Billy Gibbons (they had the same management as ZZ Top at the time). I remember him saying, “Man, that amp had hair on it.” I still, to this day, don’t know if he meant it sounded great or if it actually had fur on it or something! [laughs]

Van Halen II by Van Halen (1979)

From the second I heard Van Halen; every fiber of my DNA knew! Game on! That guitar sound was just not like anything I had ever heard. Eddie’s technique was otherworldly. It had a swing but sounded like the devil himself was playing with bad intent! The guitar sounded like it was exploding, yet it was controlled, clean, and dirty.

The low end was tight but had enough gain to seamlessly solo and then slink right back into the swankiest rhythms. It was a mystery. I picked Van Halen II because that was the first one that popped onto my radar when I was younger and had my favorite guitar sound. But any of the first six Van Halen albums will get you there.

Read More: Top 10 Van Halen Songs

Rising Force by Yngwie J. Malmsteen (1984)

Six foot, three inches of pure Viking neoclassical guitar mastery! Yngwie plays with the fire! When he first hit the scene, guitar players were so nervous, and his technique alone was just brutal. He was dropping harmonic minor riffs like they were free. I remember trying to learn his stuff when I was thirteen and not even being able to fully comprehend what was going on.

So many people tried to copy him but couldn’t even get close, and still can’t. His vibrato is crazy legit.  When his first album came out, the guitar game changed. Honorable mention goes to the fact that I went out and bought a pair of white Malmsteen/Blackmoore/Lemmy go-go boots just so I could look cool. [laughs]

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles (1967)

Anything Beatles are top of the food chain. Even as far back as I can remember, The Beatles’ music sounded magical to me. I wish I could get that same feeling from music now like I did when I first heard their stuff. I could honestly recommend any Beatles album, as they are all amazing. But I went with Sgt. Pepper’s for its experimental nature. The sonics, as well as the songs… it sounded like they had found their stride in the studio.

Read More: Complete List Of Beatles UK and US Albums In Order

Never Look Back by Blues Saraceno (1989)

If we are truly talking about albums that changed my life, then my first album absolutely changed everything for me. I was a fifteen-year-old kid from Connecticut who was living in the garage of his parents’ house. I was originally going to work with Michael Bolton, but that fell through. So, I ended up making a record on borrowed equipment that made its way throughout the industry and allowed me to build a career in the music business. That first record really represents a person trying to make the absolute most out of an opportunity. To this day, I stand behind the guitar playing. It still holds up.

Hey, wasnt that fun? Do you want more? Yes, I know you do. Look what we have for you below…..

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Blues Saraceno: 10 Albums That Changed My Life article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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