Rhinofy-Face Value

Once upon a time, Phil Collins wasn’t one of the most hated men in show business, suffering derision uncalled for, his main crime being popularity, but a behind-the-scenes drummer for an art rock band that never broke through, which was dominated by its frontman, who left.

Yes, Gabrielphiles, and they’re legion, will point to Peter’s leaving of Genesis as the moment the band went downhill. I’ll say it’s when the band reinvented itself, slimmed down, built upon what once was, and slowly gained popularity.

It took multiple years and multiple albums.

But the initial post-Peter album was a revelation. “A Trick Of The Tail” had the unfortunate uphill climb of following “Selling England By The Pound” and “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway,” the apotheosis of the Gabriel era. But not only is “A Trick Of The Tail” timeless, it contains a certifiable classic, “Squonk,” which is anything but a Gabriel clone and features the vocal work of one…Phil Collins.

Yup, Phil emerged from behind the kit as the lead singer and the band soldiered on. Building a head of steam, especially in the U.S., losing guitarist Steve Hackett along the way, but on its fourth post-Gabriel long player the band even had a hit, “Misunderstanding.” This “Duke” track may not have made it to number one in the U.S., unlike in the U.K., but it did go all the way to number 11. Suddenly, Genesis flew on America’s radar, the band was even playing arenas.

But it was a faceless act. It was about the music, not the names. Until…

“Face Value.”

Yup, that’s just what we were all waiting for. A solo disc by the unknown singer of a faceless band that had just recently broken through.

But if you were a fan, and I was, you bought it. Because you supported your favorite acts. It was your duty. And “Face Value” was quite a surprise.

Now with hindsight, everybody sees this as the disc that contained the gigantic hit “In The Air Tonight.” But that track wasn’t an immediate smash. You didn’t buy the album to hear it. You weren’t thinking singles. Sure, it was good.

But the centerpiece of the record was “You Know What I Mean.”

Just as I thought I’d made it
You walk back into my life

Breaking up is hard to do. I know, it was only months before that I’d called it quits with my live-in girlfriend. No matter how much fighting there is, you miss the companionship, being lonely sucks, you’re tempted to go back, it takes all your gumption to stay away.

Just as I’d learned to be lonely
You call up to tell me
You’re not sure if you’re ready

If you haven’t gotten this phone call, you haven’t been in a relationship. Doesn’t matter if you’re the leaver or the left. You suddenly realize what you’ve given up and you reach out…

To someone who might or might not play.

Usually there are a few go-rounds before one person truly calls it quits. But when that happens…

Oh, leave me alone with my heart
Putting the pieces back together again
Just leave, oh leave me alone with my dreams
I can do without you, you know what I mean

Yes, he’s bitter. Phil’s wife left him, and took the kids. This album was his therapy. But the personal is universal.

Oh, leave me alone with my heart
It’s broken in two and I’m not, and I’m thinking too straight
Just leave, oh leave me alone with my dreams
You’ve taken everything else, you know what I mean

Settlements are costly. You’re out on the road earning, and your wife decides…she doesn’t need you anymore.

But it’s more than that. Irrelevant of what’s being said, the sound of the track is so intimate, so heartfelt, it resonates with all the lonelyhearts sitting at home wondering how their lives got wrecked.

But then it gets even better…

Because “You Know What I Mean” segues into “Thunder And Lightning.”

As heavy and depressed, as simple and unproduced as “You Know What I Mean” is, “Thunder And Lightning”‘s just the opposite. This is the signature sound that Phil Collins ultimately employed to sell millions of records, with the horns and the exuberance.

‘Cause they say thunder and they say lightning
It would never strike twice
Oh, oh, but if that’s true then, why can’t you tell me
How come this feels so nice
Oh, it feels all right
Feels all right
All right

If you just wait long enough, not for the wound to heal, but fade, if you dip your toe in the water…you’re surprised. Suddenly, the fireworks explode, that lightning you heard never struck twice…well, they were wrong!

Let’s be honest. It doesn’t happen immediately. First you get the rebound person. You think it’s real, but it’s not. You go home broken and depressed and do your best not to drunk dial your ex. But when you’re finally convinced that’s over, at least twelve months since the breakup, then…you’ve got a chance, and eventually you meet the next person.

The exuberance in “Thunder And Lightning” is palpable. It’s EXCITING!

That’s the centerpiece of “Face Value.” It’s always one or two tracks that hook you, that get you to play a complete album, to devour and become enamored of it.

I always liked “In The Air Tonight,” because of is sheer heaviness, the otherworldly quality, the thunderous drums, but it didn’t truly resonate until it became a big hit single.

But the piano-playing and the singing in “The Roof Is Leaking” are IRRESISTIBLE! This is album music. That’s why we bought our long players. Because what was between the hits was better than what was on the radio. These album cuts weren’t filler, but the essence.

And then there’s the sheer jauntiness of “I’m Not Moving,” which follows “Thunder And Lightning” and is the third song in the trilogy.

If you feel it do it
You don’t need a reason
For all you know it could be good for you

Love is liberating. You’re high on the possibilities. And in this case, via this track, it’s CONTAGIOUS!

I’m not moving, no really
You just try and push me out
No, I’m not moving, no really
No, I’m not going anywhere tonight

You’ve been licking your wounds for so long! But out of your shell, you’re now ready to commit. And the bedrock of relationships is commitment.

Then comes the remorse.

Even though you’re in a new relationship, you cannot forget the past.

After two upbeat tracks, it’s time for reflection once again.

I’ve kept all the pictures, but I hide my feelings so no one knows
Oh sure my friends all come ’round, but I’m in a crowd on my own
It’s ’cause you’re gone now, but your heart, heart still remains
And it’ll be here if you come again

The track is entitled “If Leaving Me Is Easy.” And it never is. It hurts to be left. But they don’t crawl from the wreckage into a brand new car, the leaver has regrets, if you hang in there long enough, he or she testifies, says they had to go, but it was the hardest thing they did in their life.

And then comes “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

Because it never does. It’s a brand new day. Anything can happen, good or bad.

Give Phil credit for this Beatles cover. No one else would take the risk, of covering a classic, with its atmospheric production. On the surface it seems the easy way out, but in truth it’s anything but. It’s a statement of Phil’s headspace. You know how tracks from the past resonate, how music gets you through, it appears “”Tomorrow Never Knows” was Phil’s anthem.

And you never do know what will happen in the future.

Phil became one of the biggest names in music. Rich and famous. A household name.

But his next two marriages failed. The first cut is the deepest, if you break up once, it’s so much easier to do so in the future.

And now Phil’s hands hurt and he’s retired and to a great degree has been forgotten.

But not “Face Value.” Not for me.

Rhinofy-Face Value – Spotify

Previous Rhinofy playlists

Comments are closed