"Did You Know?" - a fan review of Phil Collins' Face Value by Traci Baker.
The Waiting Room’s fearless leader, editor, and author extraordinaire, Alan Hewitt has asked me to work on a series of posts for TWR. In conjunction with my campaign, #getphilvotedin, a effort to increase awareness and to encourage the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to nominate Phil Collins for his significant contribution to music as a solo artist, I will be sharing a series of informational posts, that in some cases will include some of my personal thoughts. Each post with take an aspect of Phil’s solo career or look at a project he’s done and share information that you may or may not have known about before. Either way it should hopefully be something to entertain, refresh or inform. The “Did You Know” Series begins this week, well…at the beginning… of Phil’s solo career; here is Face Value.
This week’s “Did You Know” post is all about Face Value, the groundbreaking masterpiece that began to propel Phil Collins from Rock Star drummer/singer of Genesis into Global superstar.
|It was mid-1980, and Phil began to write and record in the master bedroom of his home, Old Croft, in Shalford, Surrey. His master bedroom home studio featured his Auntie Daisy's 1820's vintage straight strung Collard & Collard piano, a Fender Rhodes piano, a Prophet-5 synthesizer, a (now famous) Roland CR-78 drum machine, an 8-track tape machine and of course a drum kit, which was eventually cast aside for the CR-78. He did not set out to record a solo album, rather, he was pouring his heart into writing; processing the emotional rubble that resulted from that difficult time.|
The album was filled with intensely personal songs, and the album cover itself featured an extreme close-up of Phil's face...'Face Value'... the cover was not an ego-filled effort, rather his idea was to bring you into his head. So personal, Phil took on the meticulous task of writing the track listings, liner notes and even the legal information of the round label at the center of the record in his own handwriting. A practice that he would continue on all his solo records through 1996.
The record features, in my opinion, a surprisingly wide array of styles, incorporating the Motown-inspired Phenix Horns, and a few other people you may have heard of...Eric Clapton and Alphonso Jones. With Ballads of woe, despair and anger, like If Leaving Me Is Easy and You Know What I Mean (one of my personal favorite Phil songs) and the haunting In The Air Tonight, to hopeful love songs like This Must Be Love and Thunder and Lightning, to the seemingly upbeat, yet never-far-from those break-up feelings, I Missed Again and the faster, more fun version of the Genesis song Behind The Lines (lyrics by Phil, music by the band), this album has it all. And apropos to Phil's love of the Beatles, the record closes with a lovely cover of the Beatles Tomorrow Never Knows, sort of. That is at least what the track listing wants you to believe. If you didn't know this before, here is a fun fact for you... the album actually ends with a hidden track, Phil singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Yep. How is that for tugging at the old heartstrings?
What he ended up making was a record that changed music, literally. The now famous "gated drum sound" on In The Air Tonight pioneered by Phil and producer Hugh Padgham, first heard a bit when Phil played on Peter Gabriel's solo song, Intruder, is the world's most famous drum break and has influenced countless musicians, producers, writers and fans alike.
The album, released on February 13, 1981, on Virgin Records in the UK and Atlantic Records in the US and elsewhere, was an almost instant success, much to the surprise of Phil and his Genesis band mates Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks who found out that In The Air Tonight had reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart while they were in the studio writing and recording the 1981 Genesis album Abacab.
Face Value reached No. 1 in the UK, Canada, and other European countries, while peaking in the top ten in the US. "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 US. Sales of the album exceeded five million in the US and went five-times platinum in the UK and ten-times platinum in Canada.
Face Value is widely rearguard as Phil's greatest solo work, although he has said Both Sides is his favorite of his solo records. Many contemporary artists cite Phil and this record as a major influence.
In my opinion, there is no doubt that this record alone, and it's significant influence on music, is well enough to qualify Phil for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame consideration -- and we are just getting started. There is so much more to come in future posts about why Phil should be inducted.
What do you think about Face Value?
What is your favorite track on the record? And Why?
Written by Traci Baker