THE FACTS OF LIFE: ‘Just The Facts: The Complete Kayvette Recordings 1975-1978’ (Label: Southbound)

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THE FACTS OF LIFE: 'Just The Facts: The Complete Kayvette Recordings 1975-1978'

’70s soul trio, The Facts Of Life – comprising Tyrone Davis’ sister, Jean, former Little Anthony & The Imperials and Flamingos’ member Keith Williams and Chuck Carter – were the brainchild of Millie Jackson who brought the three singers together (they were also her friends) in 1975. Initially called The Gospel Truth, the trio joined the TK-distributed Kayvette label, run by Jackson’s producer, Brad Shapiro, but after their debut single flopped ignominiously – it failed to gain radio play on R&B stations largely because DJs thought they were a gospel act – the group changed its name to The Facts Of Life. The trio’s second single – their debut under the moniker The Facts Of Life and co-helmed by Jackson and Shapiro – was ‘Caught In The Act (Of Getting’ It On),’ an ode to adulterous lust penned by those two redoubtable doyens of Southern soul cheatin’ songs, Homer Banks and Carl Hampton. The single made the US R&B Top 10, peaking at #13 in May 1976 and paved the way for their third and biggest 45, ‘Sometimes’ – another lubricious paean to steamy extra-marital affairs – which followed at the end of ’76. By January 1977, it looked like The Facts Of Life would achieve, despite their record’s risqué subject matter, a bona fide chart topper – however, the record stalled at #3 in Billboard’s R&B hit parade (#31 pop) and sadly, proved the trio’s final entry on the Stateside R&B charts despite the fact that the group continued to issue some excellent sides right into 1978. Thanks to compiler/annotator Tony Rounce and Ace Records, the wonderful, deeply soulful music that this under-appreciated mixed-gender trio recorded for Kayvette in the late-’70s is available on CD for the first time. ‘Just The Facts’ features 23 tracks spread over 2 CDs and includes both the group’s long players – 1977’s ‘Sometimes’ and 1978’s ‘A Matter Of Fact.’ Besides the aforementioned big hits, this anthology includes several more wonderful examples of big budget late-’70s Southern soul. The interaction between Jean Davis and Keith Williams – who do the lion’s share of the singing – results in a compelling chemistry that creates a palpable sense of sexual tension on some tracks. The highlights include the caustic George Jackson-penned ‘Bitter Love’ and ‘What Would Your Mama Say,’ the imploring ‘Love Is The Final Truth’ – where male singer, Keith Williams, gets a turn in the spotlight – and a superb version of Johnny Taylor’s ‘Did He Make Love To You?’ (which features a cameo from Millie Jackson). Informative liner notes by Tony Rounce – who gets to grab some good quotes from Jean Davis (now Jean Cook) and Millie Jackson – vividly paints the group’s story: though ultimately, it’s the music that speaks most eloquently of all. Though forgotten by all except the most devoted of soul anoraks, The Facts Of Life undoubtedly made some memorable records. And that’s an indisputable fact, which soul buffs will discover when they acquire this retrospective.
(CW) 4/5