KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Satur-debut – PHIL COLLINS “FACE VALUE”

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?

28 comments on “Satur-debut – PHIL COLLINS “FACE VALUE”

  1. christiansmusicmusings
    October 5, 2019

    I think you’re right on all fronts. There’s no doubt in my mind Collins is an exceptional artist.

    I used to listen to him extensively in the ’80s. Eventually, I started to get tired. As you pointed out, he just seemed to be everywhere – with Genesis, solo, teaming up with other artists like Earth Wind & Fire’s Phil Bailey for Easy Lover, etc. You couldn’t switch on mainstream radio in Germany at the time and not hear Phil Collins.

    Essentially, I haven’t listened to him since his final studio album prior to his first retirement, “Going Back”, a Motown covers record I actually thought was pretty good. Since he came out of retirement, I honestly haven’t paid any attention. I know, it almost sounds a bit cruel. Obviously, he has some health issues, and it seems to me he has returned primarily out of necessity, not because he really wanted to perform again.

    After having taken an extended break from Collins, I think I might revisit some of his music. I really used to like “…But Seriously” from 1989, as well as his debut and the follow-on “Hello, I Must Be Going!”

    Like

    • Like you I eventually got tired of him but only the new stuff he was releasing. I’ve never stopped loving any of the Genesis or solo albums that I loved in the first place. I’m so glad I got to see him in both set-ups in the ’80s & ’90s, and he was also the drummer for Robert Plant’s first solo tour in 1983, which was fantastic. I’m a big fan of …But Seriously although it’s been a number of years since I played it. I was working at Atlantic Records at that time and met Phil briefly before and after that album’s release. He was a very friendly fella, and I’m guessing he still is.

      Liked by 1 person

      • christiansmusicmusings
        October 7, 2019

        Wow, that’s pretty cool. I’ve never met any famous music artist – only some guys who pay tribute to famous musicians!😀

        I suppose if I would meet one of my music heroes like Paul McCartney or Neil Young, I would probably be speechless!😆

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      • I’ve met a few musical heroes, with Phil Collins and Billy Joel being the biggest names but meeting & hanging out with the guys in Big Country was the biggest one for me. I also met Clint Eastwood once. The conversation lasted all of about 10 seconds but I’ll never forget it. I’m sure he thinks about it often too. Haha. I missed meeting Robert Plant several times, including one instance where he was apparently hanging with a few people right outside my office at Atlantic about a half hour after I left for the day. That encounter might have left me speechless.

        Like

  2. stephen1001
    October 5, 2019

    I like Phil – and I quite like a weather forecast I heard recently, saying it was a nice & sunny Phil Collins kind of day: No Jacket Required!

    Like

  3. deKE
    October 5, 2019

    I appreciate Phil now more than the 80s due to the saturation as he was everywhere as you mentioned Rich. I mean there’s Phil drumming for Zep at Live Aid and it went on and on. There was no stopping the Collins express back than.

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    • Not only did he perform with Zeppelin at Live Aid, which will forever live in infamy, but he also did his own solo set in the UK and then flew the Concorde to the US, thus becoming the first person to perform on two continents on the same day. I’m guessing he got a lot of sleep the next day.

      Like

  4. Bill P
    October 6, 2019

    I know what you mean about divisive. I like Phil, my wife doesn’t. Period. Rare is her strong opinion on music but despiseth him she does.

    I love “In the Air Tonight” but more from its use several years later on Miami Vice. The horns on “I Missed Again” slay; that whole tune just has a quirkiness that makes it a pleasant Sunday earworm.

    Like

    • I understand your situation, Bill, as my wife & I have several artists where our tastes diverge a lot. Yet somehow we survive and have a happy marriage. There’s probably a whole generation of people who fell in love with “In The Air Tonight” because of the movie The Hangover. I hope some of those people checked out more of his music, because his catalog is full of amazing music. Also, I completely agree about the horns on “I Missed Again.” My understanding is that Phil had all the horn parts in his head so he sang them to the guys from the Phenix Horns and they created horn charts based on his ideas.

      Like

  5. You’re right – people are missing out if they don’t give this one a fair crack of the whip. I think it’s one of the great debuts just because he masters so many different styles – fusion, Beatle-pop, string-drenched ballad, blue-eyed soul, MOR…

    Like

    • Matt, I’m glad you specified that he “mastered” those styles. He showed just how talented he was in so many ways. I think I read that he actually came up with the horn parts and sang them to the Phenix horns who then wrote the charts. Very impressive.

      Like

  6. Alyson
    October 11, 2019

    Meant to leave a comment here earlier in the week but time has run away with me. I looked back at the FYF post about Genesis and re-read my comment there and it still stands – Can’t believe that was over 2 years ago now though – argh…

    I still love the album Face Value and the song “If Leaving Me Is Easy” is one of my all-time favourites (love the intro) – It really tugs at the old heartstrings with lots of raw emotion in there.

    And you casually throw in the fact you met the man in person – Wow. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the film Buster about the (British) Great Train Robbery, starring Phil. I always thought he would be a similar kind of character in real life – a cheeky chappie. I have the soundtrack album to that film which had a fair few Phil songs plus the Four Tops going Loco In Acapulco. Sadly it seems he is not a well man at the moment and has been confined to a wheelchair and sticks for some time.

    Anyway a big thumbs up for this album – Think my flatmates and I were going through all sorts of emotional turmoil myself at the time so suited the mood well. Nice new profile pic by the way – You look very happy.

    Like

    • Alyson, I’m so glad we finally have an album that we both really like. I agree about “If Leaving Me Is Easy” (the song and its intro). Phil has an amazing knack for tugging at the heartstrings in many of his songs, occasionally veering into schmaltz but often being very sincere.

      When I worked at Atlantic Records I was in a finance-related job so we operated separately from the “creative” departments. It was rare that we saw artists but I was in the lobby once when Phil popped his head in and I couldn’t resist introducing myself. I probably spoke with him for only 30-60 seconds. Saw him once again about a year later and just said a couple of quick words. I remember when Buster came out but never saw it. Might have to check it out one of these days.

      It is a shame that he’s had a lot of physical issues in recent years, especially because he’s unable to play drums. He’s one of the all-time greats.

      Thanks for the kind words about the profile pic. The previous one was about 5 years old so I figured it was time for an update. This one was taken a few months ago on my anniversary.

      Hope all is well by you.

      Like

  7. David & Laura Speer
    October 20, 2019

    Just saw Phil in Concert in Detroit, excellent concert. Loved it and he still has the voice!

    Like

    • Was that your first Phil Collins concert or had you seen him before? It’s a shame that he can’t play drums anymore and his mobility is limited but it’s great that he’s still out there bringing those great songs to his fans. I’m glad you had a great time at the show.

      Liked by 1 person

      • David & Laura Speer
        October 21, 2019

        It was my first. I was busy raising kids and working really hard with some travel and not much else until recently. He did have his son who was 18years old playing drums and that was really nice in one set, Phil watched his son in a solo. But he was honestly struggling with walking, so drums look like those are out for at least now.

        Like

      • I’ve heard good things about his son’s drumming but the kid has a lot to live up to, since Phil is one of the all-time greats. I’m really glad you got to see him and that you loved the show. Hopefully he’ll get stronger the more he performs.

        Liked by 1 person

      • David & Laura Speer
        October 23, 2019

        Yeah, his son was excellent, good genes right!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Jim S.
    October 22, 2019

    I thought I had commented on this. My wife and I both love this album. Phil gets too much grief. Great drummer, singer, songwriter.

    Like

    • I’ll never understand the grief he gets considering how much talent he has. Sure, he was everywhere throughout the ’80s, but most of what he did was excellent, and he always seemed to be having a great time. Maybe the haters are just jealous.

      Like

      • Jim S.
        October 23, 2019

        From what I can see, there appear to be two things (jealousy aside): One is that die-hard Genesis fans thought that Phil led that band down the primrose path from prog-rock to pop. And then on top of that, while he was really good at R&B, he then did sappy stuff like “Groovy Kind of Love.” So he became, I think, a magnet for the haters.

        Like

      • Great points, Jim. I completely agree. I was always able to look past some of the sappy songs because each album had a number of gems. I also like some of his sappy stuff.

        Like

      • Jim S.
        October 23, 2019

        Yeah, I’m not a sappy guy Well, some might say I AM a sappy guy. But I’m not a “sappy” guy if any of that makes any sense. 🙂 Sometimes there’s a fine line. So McCartney dances on that razor’s edge sometimes.

        Like

      • That completely makes sense. Sappy, not “sappy.” Haha. I agree about McCartney. Elton John as well.

        Like

      • Jim S.
        October 23, 2019

        Sure.

        Like

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