All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes

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All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes
Studio album by
Released14 June 1982
LabelAtco (United States)
ProducerChris Thomas
Pete Townshend chronology
Empty Glass
All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes
Singles from All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes
  1. "Face Dances, Pt. 2"
    Released: July 1982
  2. "Uniforms (Corp d'Esprit)"
    Released: 1982

All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes is the third solo studio album by English rock musician Pete Townshend, released on 14 June 1982 by Atco Records. Chris Thomas produced the album (who had also produced Townshend's previous album, Empty Glass) and it was recorded by Bill Price at three separate recording studios in London, England, which were Eel Pie, A.I.R. and Wessex. The album peaked at No. 32 on the UK Albums Chart, and at No. 26 on the US Billboard 200.

All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes contains some compositions that were salvaged[clarification needed] from later albums by his band the Who, and was released just under three months before their album It's Hard.

Recording and production[edit]

Along with the 11 songs on the album, other songs were also recorded, including "Body Language" (subsequently released in 1983 on Scoop), a track called "Man Watching" (released as the B-side of "Face Dances, Pt. 2"), and "Dance It Away" (which was also performed in various forms live by the Who between 1979 and 1981, usually as a coda to "Dancing in the Street"), and which was released as the B-side of "Uniforms". One further song "Vivienne" was listed on the cover of some early LP copies but not released at the time. This, along with "Man Watching" and "Dance It Away", were released as bonus tracks on the 2006 reissue.

Album title[edit]

Townshend explained the album title as referring to the "average American hero – somebody like a Clint Eastwood or a John Wayne. Somebody with eyes like slits..."[2]

On the Listening Time promotional LP, Townshend said he should have won a "Stupid Title of the Year" award.[3]

Video release[edit]

A companion video was also released, featuring concept videos set to the musical backings of "Prelude", "Face Dances, Pt. 2", "Communication", "Uniforms", "Stardom in Acton", "Exquisitely Bored", and a re-recorded version of "Slit Skirts", with a harmonica performance on the last song, not used on the studio cut.

Chalkie Davis, the director (with Carol Starr) of the video, said:[4]

It was 1 pm on a Tuesday in 1982 when the phone rang, 'Hi Chalkie, it's Pete (Townshend), there is this thing starting in America, it's called MTV and they want a 30-minute film of me, if you can get to Bill Curbishley's office by 2:30 pm with a script I reckon I can get you the job.' We got the job, we started filming the following Monday and shot for six days, we had two full days and four afternoons with Pete.

This has been out of print for years, though Pete Townshend put the videos up on his website in 2000, which were then subsequently uploaded to other sites on the Internet.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[6]
Rolling Stone[7]
The Village VoiceD+[8]

All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes was panned by most music critics upon its release.[9] In a contemporary review for the Village Voice, Robert Christgau found it "pretentious at an unprecedented level of difficulty" and said that Townshend twisted "such long words into such unlikely rhymes and images and marshal arrangements of such intricate meaninglessness."[8] Stereo Review called it an "ambitious failure" and felt that Townshend tends to indulge in his ideas on rock music and life on his songs.[10] In a positive review for Rolling Stone, Jon Pareles called the album "a mess of contradictions", but an exceptional listen because of Townshend's arrangements, which "surge and subside as gracefully as anything in rock; they're neither static nor jolting."[7]

In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine called it the type of album that "taunts cynics and critics, being nearly impenetrable in its content even if the production and the music itself aren't all that inaccessible."[5] Stylus Magazine's Justin Cober-Lake said that the album "might at times be convoluted or over-thought," but "remains affecting and compelling" because of Townshend's sincere lyrics.[11]

Rob Hughes of Classic Rock included The Sea Refuses No River in a list of the top 10 most underrated Pete Townshend songs.[12]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Pete Townshend, except where noted.

Side one
1."Stop Hurting People" 3:55
2."The Sea Refuses No River"
  • Pete Townshend
  • Alan Rogan
  • Townshend
  • Andy Newman
4."Face Dances, Pt. 2" 3:24
5."Exquisitely Bored" 3:41
6."Communication" 3:19
Side two
7."Stardom in Acton" 3:42
8."Uniforms (Corp d'Esprit)" 3:42
9."North Country Girl"Traditional; arranged by Pete Townshend2:27
10."Somebody Saved Me" (A version of this performed by the Who can also be found on the 1997 reissue of their 1981 album Face Dances) 4:51
11."Slit Skirts" 4:54
Total length:41:14
2006 Reissue Bonus Tracks
13."Man Watching"2:32
14."Dance It Away" (A version of this performed by the Who can also be found on the 2021 reissue of their 1981 album Face Dances)3:38


Credits are adapted from the All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes liner notes.[13]




  • Carol Starr – photography
  • Chalkie Davis – photography
  • Richard Evans – Typography, calligraphy and graphics
  • Michael Spry – photographic prints
  • Ike King – hair
  • Jacqui Lefton – makeup
  • Kenny McDonald – tailor


Chart Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[14] 41
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[15] 17
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[16] 33
UK Albums (OCC)[17] 32
US Billboard 200[18] 26


  1. ^ allMusic - All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
  2. ^ Loder, Kurt (24 June 1982). "The Rolling Stone Interview: Pete Townshend". Rolling Stone. No. 372. Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. p. 18.
  3. ^ Listening Time Promotional LP ATCO SAM150, 1982.
  4. ^ yoU2b - Pete Townshend - Chinese Eyes documentary 1982 HD
  5. ^ a b Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes". Allmusic. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  6. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. p. 3509. ISBN 978-0857125958.
  7. ^ a b Pareles, Jon (5 August 1982). "All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes". Rolling Stone. No. 375. Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. p. 48.
  8. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (31 August 1982). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
  9. ^ "Pete Townshend – Biography". Archived from the original on 8 February 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  10. ^ Stereo Review. 47: 108. July 1982. To his credit, Townshend probably thinks more about the meaning of rock (and life) than anybody else in the business, but he has a tendency to retreat inside his own head.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  11. ^ Stylus Magazine review
  12. ^ "The Top 10 most underrated Pete Townshend songs". 19 May 2020.
  13. ^ All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes (CD booklet). Pete Townshend. Atco Records. 1982.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  14. ^ " – Pete Townshend – All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes". Hung Medien. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  15. ^ " – Pete Townshend – All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes". Hung Medien. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  16. ^ " – Pete Townshend – All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes". Hung Medien. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  17. ^ "Pete Townshend | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  18. ^ "Pete Townshend Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 30 January 2020.

External links[edit]