Face Value

Face Value

by Phil Collins


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Phil Collins' first solo album, 1981's Face Value, was a long time coming, but it proved worth the wait, both for the Genesis drummer/vocalist himself and fans of thoughtful, emotionally charged pop. He'd been wrestling with the idea of doing a solo record for years, finding great inspiration in the pain caused by an impending divorce and craving artistic independence after years of collaboration. Many of the songs ended up on Genesis' 1980 album Duke -- and "Against All Odds" was pocketed for later use -- but he kept enough to make an album that stands as a classic moment of '80s pop
ock. Collins produced the album himself and played keyboards and drums, calling in friends and the Earth, Wind & Fire horns to fill out the songs. Kicking off with the bitter anthem "In the Air Tonight," rightly considered one of the great heartbreak songs of all time, the album alternates between moody ballads and bouncily soulful tracks that try to put a smile on the pain. On the quieter songs like "If Leaving Me Is Easy," Collins' wracked vocals leave no doubt that he's not sugarcoating his emotional devastation as he sorts through the wreckage of his life. The poppier tracks, like the snappy "Behind the Lines" and the impossibly hooky "I Missed Again," show off his skills as a hitmaker and vocalist. The pulsing "I'm Not Moving" marries one of Collins' catchiest melodies and airiest productions with the most forceful lyrics on the record. His everyman style of singing translates to both types of songs; he's just as good at wringing every drop of emotion out of the ballads as he is at sailing through the deceptive breezy tunes. His production is very much of the era; fretless bass pops and lush synth pads are very '80s-sounding, as are the huge gated drums. It's also surprisingly subtle at times, though considering that Collins worked with Brian Eno, maybe it's not so shocking. The new agey "Droned" and the swinging "Hand in Hand" give the album some instrumental texture and allow a break from all the desperate emotion on display. The gently sung, sweet-as-punch "This Must Be Love," which was written post-divorce about a new love, also gives an early respite after the lurching, bruising "In the Air Tonight." This range of sound and emotion is part of what helps the album succeed as much as it does; so does the feeling that Collins felt driven to make this album to help him heal. It's not a career move or a cash grab; it's a transmission from a wounded soul delivered with a soft touch and sensitivity. As such, it's Collins' most honest, most compelling work. He went on to become a huge star, with loads more hits, but Face Value stands as his masterpiece and one of the finest moments of the '80s musical landscape.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/25/1990
Label: Atlantic
UPC: 0075678148026
catalogNumber: 16029

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Phil Collins   Primary Artist,Percussion,Piano,Conga,Drums,Keyboards,Marimbas,Recorder,Vocals,Voices,Hand Clapping,Vocoder,Prophet Synthesizer,fender rhodes
Choir   Vocals
Stephen Bishop   Vocals,Background Vocals
Michael Harris   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Gary Wright   Violin
Peter Manning Robinson   Prophet Synthesizer
Daryl Stuermer   Banjo,Guitar
Ronnie Scott   Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Lakshminarayana Shankar   Violin,Drums,Tamboura
Clive Anstee   Strings,Cello
Irvine Arditti   Strings,Violin
Eric Clapton   Guitar
Rahmlee Michael Davis   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Liz Edwards   Strings,Violin
John Giblin   Bass
Brian Hawkins   Strings,Viola
Alphonso Johnson   Bass
Chris Laurence   Double Bass
Don Myrick   Saxophone,Alto Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Tenor (Vocal)
Jo Partridge   Guitar,Slide Guitar
Peter Robinson   Keyboards,Prophet Synthesizer
Louis Satterfield   Trombone
Shovokav   Percussion,Violin
Richard Studt   Strings,Violin
Nigel Warren-Green   Viola
Gavyn Wright   Strings,Violin,Leader
Bill Benham   Strings,Violin
Tony Pleeth   Cello
Simon Whistler   Strings,Viola
Darryl Steurmer   Banjo,Guitar,12-string Guitar
Ronnie Scott's Quintet   Tenor (Vocal),Soloist
Roger Best   Strings,Viola
Tony Pleet   Strings,Cello
Kevin Sillitoe   Strings,Violin
David Woodcock   Strings,Violin

Technical Credits

Phil Collins   Composer,Producer,Engineer,drum machine
Mark Mancina   Composer
Arif Mardin   String Arrangements
Hugh Padgham   Producer,Engineer
Tom Tom 84   Arranger
Tom Tom   Arranger
Bob Kaus   Liner Notes
EWF Horns   Contributor
Geoff Banks   Transportation
Children of LA   Contributor

Customer Reviews

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Face Value 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well known for his exciting and creative drumming in Genesis, Collins felt unable to express himself fully as a member of that band. With "Face Value," he took full creative control, produced one of the finest pop albums of the 80s, and commenced to rise to the top of the pop music scene, where he remained for a decade. Those put off by the sacharine, commercial flavor of Collins' later output will be pleasantly surprised by "Face Value." This album is strong throughout, and of course, "In the Air Tonight" is one of the best pop songs ever made, with menacing--and moving--lyrics and atmospherics, not to mention its astonishingly powerful drum break (in part attributable to heavy use of a noise gate effect). Collins wrote "In the Air Tonight" in the midst of a painful divorce, so you can draw your own conclusions on what the lyrics mean.
Guest More than 1 year ago
P.C. Genesis brought in a whole load of session musicians and created Face Value. The opening track, In The Air Tonight, is a very shiny look at the night sky. Except that it's about this guy who's drowning and won't get help. Other songs that follow up are quite catchy. And some that are downbeat, but there's a very lovely piano ballad called You Know What I Mean. I don't have this on CD, but I'm chasing someone down for it. Face Value was the beginning of a beautiful solo career for Phil.
MARA More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Like the rest of Phil Collins work, this song is just another great CD. Get it all, you will not be disapointed.
Tim44 More than 1 year ago
Suffice to say that Phil does what he does best
Guest More than 1 year ago
Favorite tracks: "In The Air Tonight" "Thunder And Lightning" "I Missed Again" Least favorite: "The Roof Is Leaking"