Face Value (album)

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Face Value
Studio album by Phil Collins
Released 9 February 1981
Recorded Late winter 1979–January 1981
Studio The Town House
Length 47:49
Phil Collins chronology
Face Value
Hello, I Must Be Going!
Singles from Face Value
  1. "In the Air Tonight"
    Released: 5 January 1981
  2. "I Missed Again"
    Released: 7 March 1981
  3. "If Leaving Me Is Easy"
    Released: May 1981
  4. "Thunder and Lightning
    (Germany-only release)"

    Released: November 1981

Face Value is the debut solo studio album by English singer-songwriter Phil Collins, released in February 1981 on the Virgin label internationally and Atlantic Records in North America. It was released in the UK 11 days after his 30th birthday. The album includes the hit single, "In the Air Tonight", whose dark mood was inspired by the fallout of Collins' first marriage with his wife Andrea.


By 1978, Phil Collins had been part of Genesis for eight years. After spending the first five of those years as a drummer, he reluctantly accepted the role of frontman of the group following original vocalist Peter Gabriel's departure shortly after the release of their conceptual progressive rock album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. The first album where Collins took over was 1976's A Trick of the Tail, which while still featuring the same type of progressive rock that the group had been recording since its 1970 album Trespass, also featured several ballads and softer rockers. Their 1978 album, ...And Then There Were Three..., featured their first crossover hit, "Follow You, Follow Me". The song and the subsequent album were the beginning of the group's breakaway from their progressive rock past into a more commercial, radio-friendly pop sound which alienated some fans of their older style, but brought them to the attention of a much larger audience.

Collins had been planning to record a solo album for some time. He told Modern Drummer in 1979:

One ambition is to do my own album which will have a lot of variety. I write songy [sic] stuff, as well as some from the Brand X area. I'm also hip to what Eno does - those kind of soundtracks which I've always been interested in - two or three minutes of just mood. The album, when it does come out, will have a lot of different styles on it.[1]

Following ...And Then There Were Three... and a world tour across America, Europe, and Japan, Collins took a leave of absence from the group to deal with his troubled family life. Collins' first wife filed for divorce in 1979 and left Collins in the home they shared in England by himself. Collins reportedly stayed in his house for weeks working on songs that reflected his personal life. Initially, Collins did not want to record them for an album until Atlantic Records, Genesis' record label in America, and Virgin Records, his label overseas, offered him a solo contract. Collins would base the majority of Face Value on the divorce he had endured. Some of Collins' material that he wrote for Face Value made its way onto Genesis' subsequent follow-up, Duke. Collins' radio-friendly vocals and increased songwriting contributions helped to make Duke a major commercial success and Genesis's first UK number one album in April 1980.

Production and music[edit]

Recording sessions for Face Value took place at the Town House in London between late winter of 1979 and early January 1981. According to Classic Albums, in what was then considered a controversial move at the time, Collins, who grew up listening to American R&B as a child in Chiswick, decided to incorporate an R&B horn section, hiring the Phenix Horns, who played backup for Earth, Wind & Fire. Collins refused to listen to friends who had advised him not to use the horns and they would play a major role for most of his solo career.

Collins also used another then-controversial method in using drum programming rather than just live drum instrumentation despite his reputation as a drummer. Collins said he wanted to experiment with different sounds and was inspired by the works of his former band mate Peter Gabriel, who had used drum programming on his last album. Collins was often part of these sessions. Many of the songs' arrangements were done by Collins and session arranger Tom Tom 84. He also incorporated Indian-styled violins, played by L. Shankar, for additional textures. The last recording session for Face Value was in January 1981 prior to the release of the first single, "In the Air Tonight". Atlantic CEO Ahmet Ertegun advised Collins to perform drums during the verses and opening of the song, whereas the album version did not feature live drumming until the bridge. Several songs on the album featured an autobiographical view into Collins' life at the time, mainly to the anger he felt at his impending divorce. Rumours about "In the Air Tonight" being similarly autobiographical were widely circulated in America; in fact, the lyrics were ad-libbed and have no actual meaning. Other songs such as "You Know What I Mean" (a song that was used on Frida's Something's Going On album) and "If Leaving Me Is Easy" were solemn ballads that talked of heartbreak. "I Missed Again" also had a solemn tone but was revised as a peppier song while still focusing its theme of heartbreak. The jazzy ballad "This Must Be Love" focused on Collins' then new romance at the time with Jill Tavelman, who would be his second wife.

The album features songs of different genres. While technically a rock and pop offering, the basis of many of the tracks lies in R&B with light funk influences especially in "I'm Not Moving", for which Collins sang his backgrounds with the vocoder. The two instrumentals, "Droned" and "Hand in Hand", were progressive rock instrumentals with the first featuring an exotic African sound, while "Hand in Hand" featured jazz elements and a children's choir humming the music and improvisational instrumentation by Collins and the Phenix Horns. "The Roof Is Leaking" had Delta blues and country elements. "Behind the Lines" was originally released by Genesis on their Duke album as a progressive rock number, yet Collins worked up a new, horn-driven R&B/funk-inspired arrangement after speeding up the tape on the Genesis version and thinking that the sped-up version sounded like a Michael Jackson song. The album featured a cover of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows", which included instruments and vocals playing in reverse while Collins provided multi-layered background vocals and sparse drumming. After the song ends, Collins can be heard almost silently singing "Over the Rainbow"; the songs are listed as hidden tracks on the album, and would be the only time Collins used hidden tracks on one of his own releases. Collins omitted several tracks off the album including "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" because he felt the album had "too many ballads".

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[2]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[3]

Allmusic's William Ruhlmann rated Face Value four-and-a-half out of five stars. He stated: "Collins proves himself a passionate singer (and distinctive drummer) with a gift for both deeply felt ballads and snarling rockers."[2] Steve Pond of Rolling Stone rated it three out of five stars. He explained that "[Collins] keeps the fluid vocal tone he's lately developed in Genesis, yet ignores the group's high-blown conceits in favor of some basic pop and R&B lessons". He also called the album "pop music about personal turmoil". However, he stated that "the singer's broken heart is too clearly on his sleeve, and musical missteps abound".[3]

Chart performance and sales[edit]

Released on 9 February 1981, Face Value became an immediate success, reaching number-one in the UK, Canada, and other European countries, while peaking at the top ten in the United States. "In the Air Tonight" became the album's biggest success, reaching number-two in the UK, number-one in three other countries, and becoming a top twenty hit in the United States. Other songs such as "I Missed Again" found modest success reaching number-fourteen in the UK and number-nineteen in the US, while the third single, "If Leaving Me Is Easy", reached number-seventeen in the UK but was not released in America. Sales of the album reached five million alone in the United States and went five-times platinum in the United Kingdom and ten-times platinum in Canada. No solo tour was produced from this album and Collins would not perform live as a solo artist until 1982.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Phil Collins, except where noted. 

No. Title Length
1. "In the Air Tonight"   5:32
2. "This Must Be Love"   3:55
3. "Behind the Lines" (lyrics by Mike Rutherford; music by Tony Banks, Collins and Rutherford) 3:53
4. "The Roof Is Leaking"   3:16
5. "Droned"   2:55
6. "Hand in Hand"   5:12
7. "I Missed Again"   3:41
8. "You Know What I Mean"   2:33
9. "Thunder and Lightning"   4:12
10. "I'm Not Moving"   2:33
11. "If Leaving Me Is Easy"   4:54
12. "Tomorrow Never Knows" (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) 4:46
Total length:

The album was re-released and remastered by Steve Hoffman for the Audio Fidelity label in 2010.


There were many songs which were omitted from the album including:

  • "Please Don't Break My Heart"
  • "How Can You Sit There? (Against All Odds)"
  • "Misunderstanding"
  • "Please Don't Ask"


  • Produced by Phil Collins
  • Assistant Producer – Hugh Padgham
  • Engineered by Hugh Padgham
  • Assistant Engineers – Nick Launay (London) and Karen Segal (Los Angeles)
  • Photography by Trevor Key



Year Charts
1981 1 7 1 2 4 2 3 5 1 2
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


Year Title Charts
US Rock
NL Top 100
NL Top 40
1981 "In the Air Tonight" 2 19 2 2 3 1 1 2 1 1 1 2 4 1 1
"I Missed Again" 14 19 8 6 88 35 23 28 12
"If Leaving Me Is Easy" 17 61 25
"Behind the Lines" 58
"Thunder and Lightning"
1988/1989 "In the Air Tonight ('88 Remix)" 4 47 3 17 23 4 20 6 2
2007/2008 "In the Air Tonight" (re-release) 14 1 32
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Argentina (CAPIF)[21] Platinum 60,000x
Australia (ARIA)[22] 4× Platinum 280,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[23] Platinum 50,000x
Canada (Music Canada)[24] Diamond 1,000,000^
France (SNEP)[25] 2× Platinum 600,000*
Germany (BVMI)[26] 7× Gold 1,750,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[27] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[28] Platinum 100,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[29] 2× Platinum 100,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[30] 5× Platinum 1,500,000^
United States (RIAA)[31] 5× Platinum 5,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Alexander, Susan. "Phil Collins On the Move". Modern Drummer. March 1979.
  2. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. Face Value – Phil Collins at AllMusic. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  3. ^ a b Pond, Steve (20 August 1981). "Face Value by Phil Collins". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 5 July 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "UK Charts > Phil Collins". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c "Phil Collins > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". Allmusic, Macrovision. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  6. ^ a b "RPM Magazine Archives > Top Albums > Phil Collins". RPM. Retrieved 5 April 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Australian Charts > Phil Collins". australian-charts.com Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  9. ^ a b "charts.org.nz – Discography Phil Collins". charts.org.nz Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  10. ^ "Chartverfolgung / Collins, Phil / Longplay". musicline.de PhonoNet. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  11. ^ a b "Austrian Charts > Phil Collins". austriancharts.at Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  12. ^ a b "Norwegian Charts > Phil Collins". norwegiancharts.com Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  13. ^ a b "Swedish Charts > Phil Collins". swedishcharts.com Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  14. ^ a b "Swiss Charts > Phil Collins". swisscharts.com Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  15. ^ a b "Phil Collins > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Macrovision. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  16. ^ "Chartvefolgung / Collins, Phil / Single". musicline.de PhonoNet. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 
  17. ^ "dutchcharts.nl > Phil Collins". dutchcharts.nl Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  18. ^ "Dutch Top 40 > Phil Collins" (in Dutch). Stichting Nederlandse Top 40. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  19. ^ "Les Charts > Phil Collins". lescharts.com Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  20. ^ "Irish Charts > Phil Collins". irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  21. ^ "Discos de oro y platino" (in Spanish). Cámara Argentina de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  22. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1996 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. 
  23. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Phil Collins – Face Value" (in German). IFPI Austria. Retrieved 5 November 2012.  Enter Phil Collins in the field Interpret. Enter Face Value in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  24. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Phil Collins – Face Value". Music Canada. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  25. ^ "French album certifications – Phil Collins – Face Value" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 5 November 2012.  Select PHIL COLLINS and click OK
  26. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Phil Collins; 'Face Value')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  27. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Phil Collins – Face Value" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  28. ^ "Spanish album certifications – Phil Collins – Face Value" (PDF) (in Spanish). Productores de Música de España. Retrieved 5 November 2012.  Select the "Chart", enter ' in the field "Year". Select ' in the field "Semana". Click on "Search Charts"
  29. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Phil Collins; 'Face Value')". Hung Medien. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  30. ^ "British album certifications – Phil Collins – Face Value". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 5 November 2012.  Enter Face Value in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  31. ^ "American album certifications – Phil Collins – Face Value". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 5 November 2012.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
Preceded by
Double Fantasy by John Lennon and Yoko Ono
UK Albums Chart number-one album
21 February 1981 – 13 March 1981
Succeeded by
Kings of the Wild Frontier by Adam and the Ants