This Saturday, February 13, marks the 40th anniversary of the release of longtime Genesis drummer and singer Phil Collins‘ first solo album, Face Value.
The album’s first single was “In the Air Tonight,” which has gone on to become one of Phil’s most enduring hits. The tune peaked at #19 in the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the U.K. chart. Face Value featured one other Hot 100 hit, the soulful “I Missed Again,” which also reached #19. The album has sold over five million copies in the U.S. to date.
Eric Clapton contributed guitar to a pair of songs on Face Value — “The Roof Is Leaking” and “If Leaving Me Is Easy.” Collins wrote almost all of the album’s tracks by himself. One exception is “Behind the Lines,” a different version of which was featured on Genesis’ 1980 album, Duke, and which was co-written with band mates Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford.
Face Value ends with a cover of The Beatles‘ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” followed by a hidden track: An a cappella version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” which Phil sang in tribute to the late John Lennon.
Inspired by his love of R&B, Collins hired the Phenix Horns, famous for their work with Earth, Wind & Fire, to play on Face Value. The group continued to work with Phil for years afterward.
Interestingly, “In the Air Tonight” inspired an urban legend that it was written after Collins witnessed a man allowing another man to drown. But Collins says the story isn’t true and, if anything, the song is mostly about the anger he felt about his divorce from his first wife, Andrea.
In 2020, sales of “In the Air Tonight” skyrocketed thanks to a viral clip of YouTube stars Tim and Fred Williams reacting to hearing the song for the first time.
Here’s Face Value’s full track list:
“In the Air Tonight”
“This Must Be Love”
“Behind the Lines”
“The Roof Is Leaking”
“Hand in Hand”
“I Missed Again”
“You Know What I Mean”
“Thunder and Lightning”
“I’m Not Moving”
“If Leaving Me Is Easy”
“Tomorrow Never Knows”
“Over the Rainbow” (unlisted track)
By Matt Friedlander and Andrea Dresdale
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