Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
Phil Collins has appeared several times here at KamerTunesBlog, including posts about two very different Genesis albums in my Thirty Year Thursday & Forty Year Friday series and the You Rip, You Shred series about the drummers who have made the biggest impact on me (which I hope to return to eventually). Of course in addition to his duties as drummer & vocalist for Genesis and as producer/drummer for artists like Eric Clapton, John Martyn & Robert Plant, he also had a nice “side gig” as a solo performer which eventually became his full-time career. It all started with 1981’s Face Value, an album best known for “that song” with “that drum fill” but it actually showcases an incredibly talented songwriter covering a wide variety of moods & styles. I already discussed my love for this record in Great Out Of The Gate Part 2 which you can read below.
For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.
From GREAT OUT OF THE GATE Part 2:
Phil Collins’ first solo album has been overshadowed by its ubiquitous hit single, “In The Air Tonight” and his ridiculously successful work with Genesis & as a solo artist throughout the ‘80s (and the overexposure that came with it). By the time he released Face Value, Collins had been Genesis’ lead singer for four studio albums, each charting higher than the previous one, but he wasn’t yet a household name. There was no guarantee that a collection of personal songs written & recorded in the immediate aftermath of his divorce would have any commercial success, but it turned out to be a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. There are plenty of upbeat songs featuring Earth, Wind & Fire’s Phenix Horns (minor hit “I Missed Again,” “Hand In Hand,” “Thunder And Lightning” and a peppy re-working of the previous year’s “Behind The Lines” from Genesis’ Duke album), but it’s the downbeat ballads that give the album its defining mood: “This Must Be Love,” “The Roof Is Leaking,” “You Know What I Mean” and “If Leaving Me Is Easy.” In the future his ballads would become more sappy & predictable, but here you can still hear the raw emotions he was dealing with at the time. Collins plays most of the instruments, adding some notable guests like guitarists Daryl Stuermer & Eric Clapton and singer Stephen Bishop on certain tracks. Unsurprisingly, there’s plenty of impressive drumming, but Face Value is really a showcase for his burgeoning songwriting abilities rather than an excuse to show off his chops. I know plenty of people who dismiss everything he’s ever done due to his mainstream pop material from a few years later, but they’re missing out on an excellent record that’s not only a fantastic debut but also one of the best post-breakup albums I can think of.
He can be a divisive figure among music fans due to his omnipresence on radio & MTV throughout the ’80s but even his biggest detractors should acknowledge what a gifted musician, singer & songwriter he is. How many fellow Phil Collins fans are reading this? Do you prefer his work with Genesis or his solo career? Or, like me, are you a fan of both?