Phil Collins’ Face Value at 40: Turning Heartache Into Platinum Pop Songs

Phil Collins’ Face Value at 40: Turning Heartache Into Platinum Pop Songs

phil collins
Phil Collins. Photo by Calle Hesslefors/ullstein bild via Getty Images. 

This month marks the 40 years since Phil Collins’ made his smashing solo debut with, Face Value in February 1981. The album was an immediate success, going straight to No. 1 in the U.K.; and the legendary lead single, “In The Air Tonight” dominated charts around the world.  

So, what inspired this platinum-selling titan of pop? 

At the end of the 1970s, the rising fame of his band, Genesis saw the drummer-singer-songwriter spending more and more time on the road. Despite his deep protests and attempts to reconcile, in 1979, Phil’s wife, Andrea filed for divorce. With time and talent on his hands, Collins channelled his heartache into emotionally charged, platinum pop songs; in particular, the album’s most enduring hit, home to one of the most famous drum solos of all time, “In The Air Tonight.” 

Phil Collins | “In The Air Tonight” 

Without the confines of Genesis'  prog-rock arrangements, Phil's love of R&B sits at the forefront of many songs on Face Value. Soulful follow-up single, “I Missed Again” makes for a more light-hearted study of Phil’s marital breakdown, endorsed by the famous Phenix Horns (for their work with Earth, Wind & Fire) and a sax solo from British jazz icon, Ronnie Scot. It’s up there with the best of the best when it comes to feelgood, spiteful break-up songs. 

Phil Collins | “I Missed Again”

Eric Clapton, another frequent Collins collaborator over the years, also makes an appearance on two Face Value tracks, "The Roof Is Leaking" and the piano-led tear-jerker, "If Leaving Me Is Easy." Check out Phil performing it live below, to see heart-rending balladry at it’s finest. 

Phil Collins | “If Leaving Me Is Easy” [Live, 1985]

Inspired by his love of R&B and a bout of unshakable heartache, Phil Collins created a classic masterpiece of pop, as explosive today as when it was first released 40 years ago.   

face value
Phil Collins' 40th anniversary Face Value vinyl. 

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of Face Value, the album has been reissued on a vinyl picture disc featuring Phil's 2016 recreation of the iconic album cover. The 12” picture disc is housed inside a plastic sleeve inner bag with a die-cut gatefold, with the original printed inner bag features as a 2-sided printed insert.

Order Face Value (Picture Disk), HERE. 

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