Face Value (album)

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Face Value
Phil Collins - Face Value.png
Studio album by Phil Collins
Released 9 February 1981
Recorded Winter 1979 – January 1981
Studio The Town House (West London, England)
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 recording artist 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. This album and Both Sides will be reissued, with bonus tracks included, on 29 January 2016. The reissued version's cover art is taken in the same fashion as the original's, except it features a present-day Collins instead.[1]


By 1978, Phil Collins had been part of the progressive rock band 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 at the end of the tour for their concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Collins took over vocals for 1976's A Trick of the Tail. While still featuring the complex progressive rock the group had been recording since its 1970 album Trespass, it also featured a more mainstream sound which attracted a larger audience. Their 1978 album, ...And Then There Were Three..., featured their first crossover hit single, "Follow You Follow Me".

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.[2]

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. During the conception of the album, Collins had forged a close friendship with John Martyn and contributed towards his 1980 album Grace and Danger, which contained a similar narrative relating to divorce and relationship breakdown. 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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 (and second divorce).[citation needed]

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 quietly singing "Over the Rainbow" in reference to the recent murder of John Lennon; 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 including "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" because he felt the album had "too many ballads".[citation needed]

Chart performance and sales[edit]

Released on 9 February 1981, Face Value became an immediate success, reaching No. 1 in the UK, Canada, and other European countries, while peaking in the top ten in the U.S. "In the Air Tonight" became the album's biggest hit, reaching No. 2 in the UK, No. 1 in three other countries, and becoming a top twenty hit in the U.S. Other songs such as "I Missed Again" found modest success reaching No. 14 in the UK and No. 19 in the U.S., while the third single, "If Leaving Me Is Easy", reached No. 17 in the UK but was not released in America. Sales of the album reached five million in the U.S. and went five-times platinum in the UK and ten-times platinum in Canada. No solo tour was produced from this album.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[3]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[4]
Scunthorpe Telegraph 10/10[5]
Dorset Echo Favorable[6]
Rolling Stone (DE) 4/5 stars[7]

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."[3] 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".[4] Writing for Ultimate Classic Rock in 2013, Will Levith described the album as a "now-classic" which "featured one of the dopest ’80s songs too: 'In the Air Tonight', which just about everybody has played air drums to one time or another". However, he described the cover of the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" as "absolutely atrocious" and queried: "Why Collins thought it was necessary to lay such a giant turd on an otherwise awesome album is beyond us."[8]

Nigel F from Scunthorpe Telegraph gave the 2016 reissue a brief, but very positive review, praising Collins' hits such as In the Air Tonight and claiming the reworked material "sounds as fresh as ever". He also praised the additional content of the reissue as well, giving the album a 10/10 score in the end.[5] Writing for Dorset Echo Joanna Davis gave the reissue a positive review, praising how In the Air Tonight sounds crystal-clear in the new surround sound and claiming most tracks stand the test of time, although some, like If Leaving Me Is Easy, "belong in the forgotten land of 80s ballads preceded by a saxophone introduction". [6]

Track listing[edit]

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

No. Title Length
1. "In the Air Tonight"   5:34
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" (Lennon/McCartney) 4:46
Total length:

Several original vinyl copies have "Play Loud" etched into the album's inner groove where the matrix number is typically found.

The album was re-released and remastered by Steve Hoffman for the Audio Fidelity label in 2010.[9]

A 2-disc remastered version of Face Value will be released January 29th 2016 and will contain live songs and demos.[10]


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

  • "Please Don't Break My Heart" [demo released in mp3 through website in 2011]
  • "How Can You Sit There? (Against All Odds)" [released on 'Face Value' Reissue Bonus CD in 2016]
  • "Misunderstanding" [released on Face Value Reissue Bonus CD in 2016]
  • "Please Don't Ask" [released on Face Value Reissue Bonus CD in 2016]


  • Phil Collins – vocals, drums (1, 3, 6, 7, 9–12), percussion (2, 10), Roland VP-330 vocoder (1, 6, 10), piano (4–8, 10), Roland CR-78 drum machine (1, 6, 12), Prophet-5 synthesizer (1, 2, 5–7, 10–12), Fender Rhodes (1, 2, 9, 11), handclaps (5, 9), congas (5), marimba (6)
  • Daryl Stuermer – guitars (1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12), banjo (4), 12-string guitar (5)
  • John Giblin – bass (1, 9, 10, 12)
  • Shankar – violins (1, 5, 7, 12), tamboura (5), "voice drums" (5)
  • Alphonso Johnson – bass (2, 3, 6, 7, 11)
  • J. Peter RobinsonProphet-5 (3)
  • Joe Partridge – slide guitar (4)
  • Stephen Bishop – background vocals (2)
  • Eric Clapton – guitar (4, 11)
  • Arif Mardin – string arrangements (8, 11)
  • EWF Horns
  • Music preparation – Maurice Spears
  • Other background vocals on tracks 6 and 12 by several children choirs in Los Angeles
  • Strings on tracks 8 and 11 conducted by Martyn Ford
  • Violins – Gavyn Wright (leader), Bill Benhem, Bruce Dukov, David Woodcock, Liz Edwards, Irvine Arditti, Ken Sillitoe, Peter Oxen and Richard Studt
  • Viola – Roger Best, Brian Hawkins and Simon Whistler
  • Cello – Tony Pleeth, Clive Anstee and Nigel Warren-Green
  • Double bass – Chris Lawrence
  • Produced by Phil Collins
  • Assistant Producer – Hugh Padgham
  • Engineered by Hugh Padgham
  • Assistant Engineers – Nick Launay (London) and Karen Siegel (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"
1988–89 "In the Air Tonight ('88 Remix)" 4 47 3 17 23 4 20 6 2
2007–08 "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)[28] Platinum 60,000x
Australia (ARIA)[29] 4× Platinum 280,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[30] Platinum 50,000x
Canada (Music Canada)[31] Diamond 1,000,000^
France (SNEP)[32] 2× Platinum 600,000*
Germany (BVMI)[33] 7× Gold 1,750,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[34] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[35] Platinum 100,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[36] 2× Platinum 100,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[37] 5× Platinum 1,500,000^
United States (RIAA)[38] 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. ^ Reed, Ryan (2 September 2015). "Phil Collins Details 'Face Value,' 'Both Sides' Reissues". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  2. ^ Alexander, Susan. "Phil Collins On the Move". Modern Drummer. March 1979.
  3. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. Face Value – Phil Collins at AllMusic. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  4. ^ a b Pond, Steve (20 August 1981). "Face Value by Phil Collins". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 5 July 2011. 
  5. ^ a b F, Nigel (25 January 2016). "CD REVIEWS: Phil Collins, Old Dominion, Sarah Blasko, Frokedal & Balsamo Deighton". Scunthorpe Telegraph. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Davis, Joanna (22 January 2016). "ALBUM REVIEW - Phil Collins, Face Value (Re-Issue)". Dorset Echo. Retrieved 27 January 2016. 
  7. ^ Niasseri, Sassan (27 January 2016). "Phil Collins: FACE VALUE". Rolling Stone (DE). Retrieved 27 January 2016. 
  8. ^ Levith, Will (17 August 2013). "Phil Collins, ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ – Terrible Classic Rock Covers". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  9. ^ http://www.stevehoffman.tv/
  10. ^ Reed, Ryan (September 2, 2015). "Phil Collins Details 'Face Value,' 'Both Sides' Reissues". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 September 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "UK Charts > Phil Collins". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  12. ^ a b c "Phil Collins > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". Allmusic, Macrovision. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  13. ^ a b "RPM Magazine Archives > Top Albums > Phil Collins". RPM. Retrieved 5 April 2010. 
  14. ^ a b "Australian Charts > Phil Collins". australian-charts.com Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  15. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  16. ^ a b "charts.org.nz – Discography Phil Collins". charts.org.nz Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  17. ^ "Chartverfolgung / Collins, Phil / Longplay". musicline.de PhonoNet. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  18. ^ a b "Austrian Charts > Phil Collins". austriancharts.at Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  19. ^ a b "Norwegian Charts > Phil Collins". norwegiancharts.com Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  20. ^ a b "Swedish Charts > Phil Collins". swedishcharts.com Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  21. ^ a b "Swiss Charts > Phil Collins". swisscharts.com Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  22. ^ a b "Phil Collins > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Macrovision. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  23. ^ "Chartvefolgung / Collins, Phil / Single". musicline.de PhonoNet. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 
  24. ^ "dutchcharts.nl > Phil Collins". dutchcharts.nl Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  25. ^ "Dutch Top 40 > Phil Collins" (in Dutch). Stichting Nederlandse Top 40. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  26. ^ "Les Charts > Phil Collins". lescharts.com Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  27. ^ "Irish Charts > Phil Collins". irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  28. ^ "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. 
  29. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1996 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. 
  30. ^ "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
  31. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Phil Collins – Face Value". Music Canada. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  32. ^ "French album certifications – Phil Collins – Face Value" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 5 November 2012.  Select PHIL COLLINS and click OK
  33. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Phil Collins; 'Face Value')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  34. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Phil Collins – Face Value" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  35. ^ "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"
  36. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Phil Collins; 'Face Value')". Hung Medien. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  37. ^ "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
  38. ^ "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