La Toya was at the top of her game in 1985, scoring numerous international endorsement deals, designing her own leather fashion line and fronting Mahogany Image cosmetics, who named a line of in-demand beauty supplies after her. In October 1985, she traveled to Japan to perform at the World Popular Song Festival, where her single “Baby Sister” took home one of four Outstanding Song Awards and caught a $1,000 prize.
“Baby Sister” was lifted from La Toya’s upcoming funky pop/new wave-infused album “Imagination.” The record was almost entirely helmed by Mike Piccirillo and Gary Goetzman, who had produced for musical legends like Smokey Robinson and Thelma Houston and were signed to an exclusive songwriting deal with Private-I. The album was released to little fanfare, due largely to a floundering record label. Many of the higher-ups were facing charges relating to payola-related offenses, including racketeering, mail fraud, money laundering, and obstruction of justice, including label president Joe Isgro. This resulted in a low chart position for the album’s lead single, “He’s a Pretender.”
“Pretender” was originally a minor hit for soul trio High Inergy in 1982 and then recorded by Broadway legend Jennifer Holliday for her 1985 album “Say You Love Me.” The only single from “Imagination” to chart, it landed at number seventy-six on the Billboard R&B chart. Its lack of success could quite possibly be attributed to promotional guru Isgro’s implication in the radio promotion scandal and Private-I’s severed distribution deal with CBS.
The synth-laden single “Baby Sister” was first recorded a year earlier by Janice Marie Johnson for her first solo LP “One Taste of Honey,” while another fan favorite, “Love Talk,” also has roots in another artist’s work. Originally written by Jackson family friend and producer John Wilson for Japanese pop superstar Minako Honda, a song called “Girl Talk” caught La Toya’s attention. However, after discussing its lyrics with her mother, she decided to change the tune from a confrontation between girlfriends to an ode to a lover. Wilson rearranged the track and thus “Love Talk” was born.
A third single, a remix of the album’s title track, was released via CBS Associated Records at the request of producer John Wilson. New dance mixes of “Imagination” and “Private Joy” were commissioned from Rick Gianatos for the 12-inch release but these fresh interpretations didn’t help the album fare any better. Just one more single was given a promotional release in the Philippines before the album was forgotten – the calypso-tinged tune “On a Night Like This.”
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. Its print run was limited to a strict 2000 copies.
It was also released to digital media outlets like iTunes and AmazonMP3 in 2014.