Friday, February 13, 1981

Phil Collins’ Face Value released

First posted 3/26/2008; updated 9/15/2020.

Face Value

Phil Collins

Released: February 13, 1981

Peak: 7 US, 13 UK, 13 CN, 2 AU

Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 1.5 UK, 17.6 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: mainstream pop-rock

Tracks: Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. In the Air Tonight (1/17/81, 19 US, 19 CB, 2 AR, 2 UK, 3 AU, 2 CN, sales: 3 million)
  2. This Must Be Love
  3. Behind the Lines (4/4/81, 58 AR)
  4. The Roof Is Leaking
  5. Droned
  6. Hand in Hand
  7. I Missed Again (3/7/81, 19 US, 19 CB, 8 AR, 14 UK, 88 CN, 6 CN)
  8. You Know What I Mean
  9. Thunder and Lightning
  10. I’m Not Moving
  11. If Leaving Me Is Easy (5/30/81, 17 UK)
  12. Tomorrow Never Knows


3.918 out of 5.00 (average of 15 ratings)

Quotable: Collins’ “masterpiece and one of the finest moments of the ‘80s musical landscape” – Tim Sendra, All Music Guide


About the Album:

Phil Collins spent a decade with the rock group Genesis, first as their drummer and then their singer, before launching a solo career. “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/rock.” AMG

“Collins produced the album himself and played keyboards and drums, calling in friends and the Earth, Wind & Fire horns to fill out the songs.” AMG The “thundering drums and punchy horn arrangements…clicked with the public…launching Collins’ career as one of the biggest and most unlikely stars of the ‘80s.” AZ

The album kicks off “with the bitter anthem In the Air TonightAMG “where Collins dryly comments, ‘If you told me you were drowning / I would not lend a hand’).” AZ It is “rightly considered one of the great heartbreak songs of all time.” AMG

The album offers “a compelling churn of emotions” AZ alternating “between moody ballads and bouncily soulful tracks that try to put a smile on the pain.” AMG “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.” AMG

“The gently sung, sweet-as-punch This Must Be LoveAMG showcases “the delight he feels in exploring a new relationship.” AZ It “gives an early respite after the lurching, bruising ‘In the Air Tonight.’” AMG “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.” AMG “The pulsing I’m Not Movin’ marries one of Collins’ catchiest melodies and airiest productions with the most forceful lyrics on the record.” AMG

“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.” AMG “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.” AMG

“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.” AMG

Notes: In 2016, a deluxe edition of the album was released with eight live songs from various years and four demos from 1980 for “This Must Be Love,” “Please Don’t Ask,” “Misunderstanding,” and “Against All Odds.”

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Monday, February 2, 1981

Talking Heads released “Once in a Lifetime”

First posted 11/14/2019.

Once in a Lifetime

Talking Heads

Writer(s): David Byrne, Brian Eno, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth (see lyrics here)

Released: February 2, 1981

First Charted: February 7, 1981

Peak: 91 US, 82 CB, 14 UK, 28 CN, 23 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales *: -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Radio Airplay *: --

Video Airplay *: 23.9

Streaming *: --

* in millions


For their fourth album, Remain in Light, the Talking Heads adopted a new songwriting method. Working with producer Brian Eno, they recorded jams in the studio, keyed in on the best parts, and then played those repetitively. The technique took its influence from early hip-hop and afrobeat musicians like Fela Kuti. Singer David Byrne compared the approach to modern looping and sampling, describing the band as “human samplers.” WK

“Once in a Lifetime” was, according to Byrne, the band’s failed attempt at playing funk. Eno initially didn’t like the track and the band nearly shelved it. Keyboardist Jerry Harrison said it was difficult to write choruses for the song because of the limited chord changes. Byrne, however, believed he could write lyrics to it. The song fell into place after Eno sang wordlessly to the song, thus developing the chorus melody. WK

Byrne took his inspiration for the lyrics and vocals from preachers delivering sermons. His half-spoken and half-sung vocals are like the call-and-response between a preacher and a congregation. WK All Music Guide’s Steve Huey said the lyrics addressed “the drudgery of living life according to social expectations,” SF but Byrne said they are about the unconscious and how we “operate half-awake or on autopilot.” WK NPR’s Travis Morrison said “the lyrics are astounding – they are meaningless and totally meaningful at the same time. That’s as good as rock lyrics get.” WK

In the video, Byrne dances erratically to footage of religious rituals broadcast behind him on a blue screen. WK He and choreographer Toni Basil (best known for her #1 song “Mickey”) studied archival footage of evanglists and preachers as well as African tribes, Japanese religious sects, and people in trances. WK In 2003, BBC critic Chris Jones wrote that the video “remains as compelling as it was in 1981. And how many other videos can you say that about?” WK

The original single was a top 20 hit in the UK and hit the top 30 in Canada and Australia. The song didn’t chart in America until three years later when a live version from the band’s concert film Stop Making Sense was released as a single. Malcolm Jack of the Guardian described the song as “a thing of dizzying power, beauty and mystery…it sounds like nothing else in the history of pop.” WK

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