The Castaways

Liar, Liar

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Song Review by Lindsay Planer

Although "Liar, Liar" clocks in at under two minutes, the Castaways packed in some of the most distinctive licks and vocals born of an era in pop music that was becoming perpetually redefined by a continuum of fresh sounds and novel ideas. The delivery of the ethereal taunt "Liar, liar, pants on fire/Hang them up on a telephone wire" is given a simply sinister delivery with Bob Folschow's piercing electric guitar punctuating the lines with an almost off-kilter two-note solo. The rhythm section of bassist Roy Hensley and drummer Denny Craswell drives steadily, with organist Jim Donna providing the oddly unsettling and repetitive Farfisa riffs. The catchy lyrical rhyme scheme and ragged-but-right song structure are fleshed out by an instrumental break beginning with a short solo from Hensley and an unidentified primal scream before kicking into full-throttle garage rock mode. The song's quirky nature caught fire over the American airwaves and with record retailers, resulting in a sizable Top 15 (number 12) hit in the spring of 1965. The passage of time has enshrined "Liar, Liar" as a seminal '60s oldie, undoubtedly aided by its appearance on the best-selling 1987 soundtrack to Good Morning Vietnam and use in numerous television and radio advertisements, not to mention being included on scores of multi-artist collections. One of the best cover versions is by Debbie Harry, and can be found on 1988's original soundtrack to Married to the Mob.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968 1972
Various Artists
Rhino 1:54
Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968 [Box Set] 1998
Various Artists
Rhino 1:54
Liar Liar: The Best of the Castaways 1999 Plum Records 0:00
Nuggets from Nuggets: Choice Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era 2000
Various Artists
Rhino 1:52