Pete Townshend - White City: A Novel

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Posted on Wed, 11/04/2015 - 2:42pm
by Ron Wallace

Member since: Sat, 01/24/2015

Release Type

Studio Album

Release Year


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ATCO Records


Album Overview

White City: A Novel is a solo concept album by Pete Townshend of The Who, released in 1985 on Atco.


1Give Blood5:44
2Brilliant Blues3:06
3Face The Face5:51
4Hiding Out3:00
5Secondhand Love4:12
6Crashing By Design3:14
7I Am Secure4:00
8White City Fighting4:40

Written-By: David Gilmour
Written-By: Pete Townshend

9Come To Mama4:40


The title refers to a story (called a "novel" in the album title) that accompanies the album, and which takes place in a low-income housing estate in the West London area of White City, near where Townshend had grown up. The story tells of cultural conflict, racial tension and youthful hopes and dreams in the 1960s — a world of "prostituted children", "roads leading to darkness, leading home" and despairing residents living in "cells" with views of "dustbins and a Ford Cortina". The song "White City Fighting", which features David Gilmour's guitar work, tells listeners that the White City was "a black, violent place" where "battles were won, and battles were blown, at the height of the White City fighting". The album opens with crashing guitar chords that capture a feeling of urban chaos, leading into "Give Blood", a song with Townshend's trademark, moral lyrics demanding listeners to "give blood, but you may find that blood is not enough".


The disc also mentions a film based on the album, directed and "adapted for longform video" by Richard Lowenstein. The 60 minute video, entitled "White City: The Music Movie", was released by Vestron Music Video in 1985 and stars Pete Townshend, Andrew Wilde and Frances Barber. The videotape also features exclusive footage of Pete Townshend discussing the album and film, and the premiere performance of "Night School". That song, in a different form, would be included on Hip-O's 2006 re-release as a bonus track.

Album contents

The track "White City Fighting" originated as a tune written by David Gilmour for his second solo album About Face. He asked Townshend to supply lyrics, but felt that he couldn't relate to them, so Townshend used the song instead, with Gilmour playing guitar. Gilmour sent the same tune to Roy Harper, whose lyrics had the same effect on Gilmour. Harper used the result, "Hope", which has a markedly slower tempo, on his 1985 album with Jimmy Page called Whatever Happened to Jugula?.

Non-album tracks

  1. "Face the Face" (Vocal long version) – 6:08 (Available on 12" US Atco and European Singles)
  2. "Hiding Out" (Instrumental version) – 3:00 (Available on 12" Atco Germany single of "Hiding Out")
  3. "Night School" – 3:03 (Video version)
  4. "Face the Face" (Single edit) – 4:23 (Available on 7" US single)
  5. "Face the Face" (Edit version) – 3:59 (Available on 12" US promo single)


  • Pete Townshend – vocals, guitar
  • Steve Barnacle – bass guitar
  • Mark Brzezicki – drums
  • John "Rabbit" Bundrick – keyboards

Additional musicians

  • Clem Burke – drums
  • Tony Butler – bass guitar
  • Phil Chen – bass guitar
  • David Gilmour – guitar
  • Peter Hope-Evans – harmonica
  • Kick Horns: Simon Clarke, Roddy Lorimer, Tim Sanders, Peter Thoms
  • Chucho Merchan – bass guitar
  • Pino Palladino – bass guitar
  • Simon Phillips – drums
  • Ewan Stewart – voice (spoken word)
  • Jackie Challenor, Mae McKenna, Lorenza Johnson, Emma Townshend, Justine Frischmann – backing vocals


  • Album cover design:Richard Evans 
  • Producer: Chris Thomas
  • Recorded By: Bill Price
  • Written-By: Pete Townshend


White City: A Novel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia : taken from -