Tuesday, December 14, 2021

"Little Liar" by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

Song#:  3701
Date:  10/29/1988
Debut:  75
Peak:  19
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  With her recording career a bit on the ropes, Jett rebounded in a big way with her sixth album Up Your Alley. Jett got hooked up with songwriter/producer Desmond Child and pair collaborated on three tracks for the album, two of which would be pushed out as singles. The first was the roaring "I Hate Myself for Loving You," which became Jett's third Pop Top 10 (#8) and first since 1982. The second was this follow-up single. While it wouldn't do quite as well, it still was able to crack the Pop Top 20 while getting to #13 on the Rock chart. The hit would help boost sales of the album, which peaked at #19 and went platinum. The LP and hits reignited Jett's career, but only for a short time.

ReduxReview:  This power ballad was an excellent choice for a follow-up. Glam rock power ballads were hot at the time and Jett's song fit right in. The timing and the tune were both right and it resulted in a solid hit for her. The pairing of Jett with Desmond was inspired. The three tracks they worked on together for the album were easily the best. They were big, meaty, and just cascaded out of your speakers. Jett would collaborate again with Child for her 1991 album Notorious, but by that time grunge was taking over and hard rock artists like Jett were struggling to get anything on the radio. It's a shame they only did the three tracks for Up Your Alley. Had they done a few more songs or even a full album, it could have been and even bigger hit. Still, it did well enough to go platinum and to spawn this growling power ballad.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) After Up Your Alley, Jett chose to take a bit of a detour. Her next LP, 1990's The Hit List, was an album of cover songs. It would also be the first since her 1980 debut album to be solely credited solely to Joan Jett despite her Blackhearts band performing on the tracks. The LP's first single was "Dirty Deeds," a cover of AC/DC's 1976 track "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap." The tune was a middling hit reaching #23 Rock/#36 Pop. The album would reach #36, but fail to reach the gold level sales mark. Joan and her band would then issue out a couple more albums in the 90s, but neither charted. Despite the lack of chart success, Jett remained a popular touring act and would also write/produce for other artists. In 2014, Jett fronted the two remaining members of Nirvana for a performance of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." The collaboration was for Nirvana's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The following year, Jett and the Blackhearts would become members.  2) In 1996, Jett did an unusual cover. She recorded "Love Is All Around," a song written and performed by Sonny Curtis. Most folks know the song as the theme to the hit 70s sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Curtis's first crack at the song would be used in the show's first season and had questioning lyrics that began "how will you make it on your own" and ending with "you might just make it on our own." But then starting with the second season, Curtis rewrote the lyrics putting a more confident spin on them. The tune then began with the famous line "who can turn the world on with her smile" and ended with "you're gonna make it after all." Curtis would record the song in 1970 with a different arrangement and release it as a single, but it didn't chart. In 1980, he would include a new version of the song on an album title Love Is All Around. The song had more of a country feel and it would be released as a single and get to #29. While Curtis would put a few solo songs on the charts, none would do as well as some of the other songs he wrote for other artists including Leo Sayer's "More Than I Can Say (#2, 1980), The Everly Brothers' "Walk Right Back" (#7, 1961), and Bobby Fuller's "I Fought the Law" (#9, 1966). Jett's take on "Love Is All Around" wasn't the first rock version of the tune. In 1985, punk band Hüsker Dü recorded the tune and put it on the b-side to their single "Makes No Sense At All." The band was from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, which was the setting for The Mary Tyler Moore Show. They would film a video for the track that included sites seen in the TV show's opening.


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