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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