Face Value (album)

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Face Value
Phil Collins - Face Value.png
Studio album by Phil Collins
Released 13 February 1981 (UK)[1]
Recorded June 1980 – January 1981
Studio The Town House (West London, England); Old Croft, Surrey; The Village Recorder, Los Angeles
Length 47:49
Phil Collins chronology
Face Value
Hello, I Must Be Going!
(1982)Hello, I Must Be Going!1982
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
Alternative cover
2016 reissue cover
2016 reissue cover

Face Value is the debut solo studio album by English drummer Phil Collins. It was released in February 1981 on the Virgin label internationally and Atlantic Records in North America, the album topped the UK Album Chart on its initial release and was well-received by critics. It opens with his successful debut single "In the Air Tonight", which had a dark mood inspired by the separation from his wife Andrea and rose to number two on the UK Singles Chart in January 1981. The album was 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.[4]


By 1978, Phil Collins had been part of the English progressive rock band Genesis for almost eight years. After spending the first five of those years as a drummer, Collins 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 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.[5]

Following ...And Then There Were Three... and a world tour across the United States, Western 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' 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] Assistant recording engineer Nick Launay was hired after Collins was impressed with his work with Public Image Limited.[6]

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 work 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 Travelman, 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; this final song is unlisted on most releases of the album (the original US cassette version being an exception), and would be the only time Collins used a "hidden" track on one of his own releases. Three of the most notable songs that Collins wrote during the Face Value sessions, but were ultimately omitted were "Misunderstanding" - later reworked as a Genesis song on their 1980 album Duke, "How Can You Just Sit There", which evolved into "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)", and what would become "Don't Lose My Number", which wouldn't appear until Collins' third album No Jacket Required in 1985.

Artwork and packaging[edit]

Collins regarded Face Value as a highly personal project, which gave rise to the iconic cover art of the album with Collins' face in extreme close-up — originally intended to symbolise the listener "getting into his head"; the reverse side of the sleeve showed the rear of his head, although the CD version of the album placed this image on the insert card instead. To emphasise the personalness of the album, Collins' also hand wrote all of the liner and sleeve notes, even down to the legal statements on the outer circumference of the centre label of the disc itself. Both of the main visual elements of Face Value — the facial close-up, and the handwritten notes — would became a motif of Collins' subsequent albums until 1996's Dance into the Light.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[7]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars[8]
PopMatters 9/10[9]
Q 4/5 stars[10]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[11]
Rolling Stone (DE) 4/5 stars[12]
Scunthorpe Telegraph 10/10[13]
Uncut 7/10[14]

Face Value was released to critical acclaim. 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."[15] 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".[11]

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."[16] In 2016, Dorian Lynskey of The Guardian described Face Value as "an intriguing debut, wandering between art-rock and soulful MOR... Face Value's most potent quality was its emotional transparency. Like the pensive portrait on the cover, the songs addressed the listener with unflinching directness."[3]

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.[13] 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".[17] Icon Fetch reviewer, Tony Peters, was hugely positive about the album, acclaiming it as "not only his finest work, it’s also an incredible piece of catharsis following the breakup of a relationship" and praising the overall diversity of the music and concluding that it is one of the greatest albums of the decade.[18]

Commercial performance[edit]

Released on 13 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.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Phil Collins, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) 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
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
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 4:15
13. "Over the Rainbow" (unlisted track, except on cassette release, WEA 1981) lyrics by E.Y. Harburg; music by Harold Arlen 0:31
Total length: 47:49
  • Several original vinyl copies have "Play Loud" etched into the album's inner groove where the matrix number is typically found. This may be because the record's baked-in volume is relatively low compared to others'.
  • The album was re-released and remastered by Steve Hoffman for the Audio Fidelity label in 2010.[19]
  • A 2-disc remastered version of Face Value was released on 29 January 2016 and contains live songs and demos.[20]


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), Roland VP-330 vocoder (1, 6, 10), Roland CR-78 drum machine (1, 6, 12), Prophet-5 synthesizer (1, 2, 5–7, 10–12), Fender Rhodes (1, 2, 9, 11), percussion (2, 10), piano (4–8, 10), handclaps (5, 9), congas (5), marimba (6), acoustic guitar (13)
  • 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


  • Phil Collins – producer
  • Hugh Padgham – assistant producer. engineer
  • Nick Launay – assistant engineer (London)
  • Karen Siegel – assistant engineer (Los Angeles)
  • Trevor Key – photography

Chart positions[edit]


Year Charts
1981 1 7 1 2 4 2 3 5 7 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 6 1 2 1 1 1 2 4 7 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 Certified units/Sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[40] Platinum 60,000^
Australia (ARIA)[citation needed] 4× Platinum 280,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[41] Platinum 50,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[42] Diamond 1,000,000^
France (SNEP)[43] 2× Platinum 600,000*
Germany (BVMI)[44] 7× Gold 1,750,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[45] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[46] Platinum 100,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[47] 2× Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[1] 5× Platinum 1,542,095[48]
United States (RIAA)[49] 5× Platinum 5,000,000^

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "BPI > Certified Awards > Search results for Phil Collins (page 2)". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 16 February 2016. 
  2. ^ Galluccci, Michael (9 February 2016). "35 Years Ago: Phil Collins Releases His First Solo Album, 'Face Value,' About His Crumbling Marriage". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Lynskey, Dorian (11 February 2016). "Phil Collins returns: 'I got letters from nurses saying, "That's it, I'm not buying your records"'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 March 2016. 
  4. ^ Reed, Ryan (2 September 2015). "Phil Collins Details 'Face Value,' 'Both Sides' Reissues". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  5. ^ Alexander, Susan. "Phil Collins On the Move". Modern Drummer. March 1979.
  6. ^ Mills, Gary (26 May 2010). "No Flak Jacket Required: In Defence Of Phil Collins". The Quietus. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  7. ^ Sendra, Tim. "Face Value – Phil Collins". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 May 2016. 
  8. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8. 
  9. ^ Sawdey, Evan (12 May 2016). "Phil Collins: 2016 Rhino Reissues (Part One)". PopMatters. Retrieved 14 May 2016. 
  10. ^ Blake, Mark (December 2015). "Phil Collins: Face Value / Both Sides". Q (353): 118. 
  11. ^ a b Pond, Steve (20 August 1981). "Phil Collins: Face Value". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 5 July 2011. 
  12. ^ Niasseri, Sassan (27 January 2016). "Phil Collins: FACE VALUE". Rolling Stone (DE). Retrieved 27 January 2016. 
  13. ^ a b F, Nigel (25 January 2016). "CD REVIEWS: Phil Collins, Old Dominion, Sarah Blasko, Frokedal & Balsamo Deighton". Scunthorpe Telegraph. Retrieved 25 January 2016. [permanent dead link]
  14. ^ O'Connell, Sharon (December 2015). "Phil Collins: Face Value / Both Sides". Uncut (223): 91. 
  15. ^ Ruhlmann, William. Face Value – Phil Collins at AllMusic. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  16. ^ Levith, Will (17 August 2013). "Phil Collins, 'Tomorrow Never Knows' – Terrible Classic Rock Covers". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  17. ^ Davis, Joanna (22 January 2016). "ALBUM REVIEW - Phil Collins, Face Value (Re-Issue)". Dorset Echo. Retrieved 27 January 2016. 
  18. ^ Peters, Tony. "Phil Collins - Face Value (Deluxe Edition) (review)". Icon Fetch. Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  19. ^ "SteveHoffman.TV – Home of Audiophile Mastering Engineer Steve Hoffman". 
  20. ^ Reed, Ryan (2 September 2015). "Phil Collins Details 'Face Value,' 'Both Sides' Reissues". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 September 2015. 
  21. ^ Sinclair, Paul. "Phil Collins / Face Value and Both Sides deluxe reissue details". Super Deluxe Edition. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  22. ^ a b "UK Charts > Phil Collins". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  23. ^ a b c "Phil Collins > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". Allmusic, Macrovision. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  24. ^ a b "RPM Magazine Archives > Top Albums > Phil Collins". RPM. Retrieved 5 April 2010. 
  25. ^ a b Australian chart peaks:
  26. ^ a b "charts.org.nz – Discography Phil Collins". charts.org.nz Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  27. ^ "Chartverfolgung / Collins, Phil / Longplay". musicline.de PhonoNet. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  28. ^ a b "Austrian Charts > Phil Collins". austriancharts.at Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  29. ^ a b "Norwegian Charts > Phil Collins". norwegiancharts.com Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  30. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959-2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  31. ^ a b "Swedish Charts > Phil Collins". swedishcharts.com Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  32. ^ a b "Swiss Charts > Phil Collins". swisscharts.com Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  33. ^ a b "Phil Collins > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Macrovision. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  34. ^ "Chartvefolgung / Collins, Phil / Single". musicline.de PhonoNet. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 
  35. ^ "dutchcharts.nl > Phil Collins". dutchcharts.nl Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  36. ^ "Dutch Top 40 > Phil Collins" (in Dutch). Stichting Nederlandse Top 40. Retrieved 29 April 2010. [permanent dead link]
  37. ^ "Les Charts > Phil Collins". lescharts.com Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  38. ^ "Irish Charts > Phil Collins". irishcharts.ie. Archived from the original on 3 June 2009. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  39. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos:año a año, 1959-2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  40. ^ "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. 
  41. ^ "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
  42. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Phil Collins – Face Value". Music Canada. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  43. ^ "French album certifications – Phil Collins – Face Value" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 5 November 2012.  Select PHIL COLLINS and click OK
  44. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Phil Collins; 'Face Value')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  45. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Phil Collins – Face Value" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  46. ^ "Spanish album certifications – Phil Collins – Face Value" (PDF) (in Spanish). Productores de Música de España. Retrieved 5 November 2012.  Select album under "Chart", enter ' in the field "Year". Select ' in the field "Semana". Click on "Search Charts"
  47. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Phil Collins; 'Face Value')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  48. ^ Jones, Alan (5 February 2016). "Official Charts Analysis: Bowie scores consecutive No.1 albums". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 7 February 2016. (Subscription required (help)). 
  49. ^ "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