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Face Value

Among the many emotions manifesting from exposure to certain pieces of music are memories evoked by its lyrics and/or melody. Anthems that are indelibly etched on our life canvases, bringing to mind memories of joy, sadness, despair and wonderment at why there’s a brass band in our living rooms.

Recently I’ve been enjoying listening to some of the vinyl albums from my youth. Consequently, I’ve felt moved to, in my next few narratives, review these original records purchased in my youth; along with a summary of recollections they evoke. Today’s offering one of the most loved pieces of vinyl from my late teens:-

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Phil Collins – Face Value: The Genesis frontman’s inaugural solo album which bears the classic ‘In The Air Tonight’ as its opening track. This, to my mind, easily his best solo collection of refrains, with an eclectic mix of styles, including his trademark heavy drum beats, dabbling with brass accompaniments, along with delta blue and country elements….. The latter featured in the brilliant ‘The Roof Is Leaking’; a track I fondly (and somewhat mischievously) labelled s**t kicker music, or should that be music to kick s**t to?!

This tune telling a melancholic tale of poverty in the American south; along with the stoicism and remarkable positivity displayed by an isolated family with no means of heating and little hope.

From its cricket stridulation start to its sorrowful banjo final chords, Collins’ takes the listener on a depressing, cold winter journey. A sojourn which, regardless of your thoughts on the song itself, at its conclusion will result in you donning a sweater and turning on the central heating…… Perhaps I should submit that instead of this song being music to kick s**t to, it’d be more accurate to class it as music to catch hyperthermia to!!!

This classic 1981 album released shortly before my 18th birthday was top of my list of desired gifts. Unfortunately, we were as poor as the guy telling his story in ‘The Roof Is Leaking’, consequently I ended up with a klaxon. I imagine my dad must’ve been given the klaxon and not bought it. After all, Phil Collins album would’ve been a darned sight cheaper than purchasing the unspeakable loud horn.

It was only after I spent the evening of my 18th birthday continually blaring the cacophonous alerting device my distressed parents relented and swapped the horn for a copy of Face Value!…… The person in receipt of the klaxon our idiosyncratic hard of hearing neighbour Archie who coveted his new ‘toy’; taking it for walks on a daily basis and naming it Bernard. Apparently, he didn’t like Collins’ seminal vinyl offering….. Incidentally, that’s Archie not Bernard; the klaxon had no thoughts either way on the album.

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There’s not only memories of Bernard the klaxon manifested from deep within this erratic mind when I hear Phil Collins first solo album. I also remember the meal my dad cooked the family on the day I officially transcended into adulthood.

Dubbed by the brood as Colonel Strachan’s, the recipe/contents of pater’s cuisine were chicken breast pieces marinated in honey, covered in a southern-fried breadcrumbs and paprika coating. A meal he shallowed fried and served with twice cooked fries, salad and petit pois.

It was a much loved meal in chez Strachan. The honey and paprika giving the chicken coating a wonderful fusion of sweet and savoury. If I was being pedantic I’d posit the fries would’ve been more appealing with a shorter elapse time between the first and second cook. I’d argue two weeks between deep frying of the potato chips was too large a gap; detracting from the enjoyability of that element of the meal….. But hey no one died!!…. That being said, my brother Ian was briefly hospitalised after contracting salmonella!!

Following receiving the album in April 1981, I played Face Value almost non-stop for weeks . I’ve no idea what became of Bernard the klaxon, however, I’d like to think he provided old Archie with as much enjoyment as Phil Collin’s classic amalgam of tunes did me.

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