After parting ways with Polydor, La Toya signed to a burgeoning new CBS Associated label, LARC Records. Label head Joe Isgro got his start overseeing northeast promotion of records by The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Diana Ross, Billy Joel, Elton John and many more before starting his own label. “Bet’cha Gonna Need My Lovin’,” her first and only single for LARC, was produced by Kay-Gees guitarist Amir Bayyan and became her biggest hit on the Billboard charts at the time. The track peaked at number twenty-two on the Hot Soul Singles chart and number fifty-five on the Hot Dance/Disco Singles chart.
Soon after the formation of LARC Records, Isgro established a second label, Private-I Records, where La Toya was moved for further releases. She continued working with Bayyan through the winter, writing and recording an album’s worth of material.
A second single was released in April of 1984, the reggae-tinged track “Heart Don’t Lie,” featuring guest vocals from Howard Hewett of R&B-disco group Shalamar and British reggae group Musical Youth. The song became the biggest hit of La Toya’s career, peaking at number fifty-six on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart and number twenty-nine on the Hot Black Singles chart.
“Heart Don’t Lie” is notable as La Toya’s first single to have an accompanying music video. Despite having never been released on any home video format, the clip remained popular on VH1’s countdown charts through the 1990s and has tallied hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.
The following album, also titled “Heart Don’t Lie,” boasted contributions from even more hot talent. Andy Summers of The Police, George Duke, Stanley Clarke, and members of Kool & the Gang all played various instruments on the album, while La Toya’s siblings Marlon and Janet provided backing vocals. Her brother Tito also co-produced the album cut “Frustration” alongside Howard Hewett.
The album was released in early summer and saw La Toya promoting it all over TV and radio. She obtained spots in McCall’s Magazine, Us Magazine and Jet, with each one showering the album with great acclaim. Rolling Stone Magazine called the album “admirable,” while The Afro-American described her cover of Prince’s “Private Joy” as being as intense as the original. The Los Angeles Times claimed “note for note, she matches Prince’s intensity with her own hard-edged snap, crackle and pop.”
“Private Joy” was both a fan favorite and a favorite of the Pope of Pop herself. She told The Los Angeles Times in 1984 of how she came to record the song, “Prince’s publishing company approached me about recording songs of his that hadn’t gone over too big the first time around,” she said. “They submitted several songs and I picked ‘Private Joy’ because it sounded so up-to-date. I loved the song and my record company loved it…”
The track received a low-scale single release in Japan in July of 1984, as a tool to launch the album in the Asian market. Despite her newfound popularity in Japan – she could frequently be seen on Japanese television promoting Nikon cameras – the single failed to chart.
However, another quirky dance-pop song did perform well for La Toya. “Hot Potato” was released as the fourth and final single from the album that autumn and saw La Toya embark on a worldwide promo tour. She performed on various programs in the US and Europe, including The Fall Guy and Solid Gold. The song was another hit for La Toya, peaking at number forty-three on Billboard’s Hot Black Singles chart, number thirty-eight on the Hot Dance/Disco Singles chart, and number ninety-two on the UK singles chart.
In addition to her own early musical endeavors, La Toya found success writing for other big-name artists. Jimmy Cliff’s hit single “Reggae Night” stemmed from La Toya’s early sessions with Amir Bayyan and was given to Cliff for his 1983 CBS album “The Power and the Glory.” She said at the time, “A lot of people wanted to so that tune and we were thinking about saving it for my album. But when Jimmy came along I said, ‘Forget it. I hear a guy doing it.’ So he got the tune.” La Toya and Bayyan were nominated for a Grammy for writing the song, which prompted them to write two further tracks for the singer’s 1985 album, “Cliff Hanger”: “Brown Eyes” and “American Sweet.”
The “Heart Don’t Lie” album was given an expanded CD reissue in February 2012 through Funky Town Grooves, with new liner notes written by Matt Emrick. The print run was limited to 2000 copies and sold out quickly.
It was also released to digital media outlets like iTunes and AmazonMP3 in 2014.