White City: A Novel

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White City: A Novel
White City A Novel.jpg
Studio album by Pete Townshend
Released 11 November 1985 (1985-11-11)
11 July 2006 (2006-07-11) (Reissue)
Recorded 1985
Studio Eel Pie Studio, Twickenham; Eel Pie Studio, Soho, London; A.I.R. Studios, London
Genre Rock
Length 38:27
Label Atco (US)
Hip-O (Reissue)
Producer Chris Thomas
Pete Townshend chronology
White City: A Novel
Deep End Live!
(1986)Deep End Live!1986
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars [1]
Rolling Stone (positive) [2]

White City: A Novel is a solo concept album by Pete Townshend of The Who, released in 1985 on Atco.[3]


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 on guitar,[3] 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 moral lyrics demanding listeners to "give blood, but you may find that blood is not enough".[citation needed]


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 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[edit]

The track "White City Fighting" originated as a tune written by David Gilmour for his second solo album About Face.[3] 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.[3] Gilmour sent the same tune to Roy Harper, whose lyrics had the same effect as on Gilmour.[3] Harper used the result, "Hope", which has a markedly slower tempo, on his 1985 album with Jimmy Page called Whatever Happened to Jugula?.[3]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Pete Townshend except as noted.

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Give Blood"   5:44
2. "Brilliant Blues"   3:06
3. "Face the Face"   5:51
4. "Hiding Out"   3:00
5. "Secondhand Love"   4:12
6. "Crashing by Design"   3:14
7. "I Am Secure"   4:00
8. "White City Fighting" David Gilmour, Townshend 4:40
9. "Come to Mama"   4:40
Bonus Tracks (2006 Hip-O USA Release)
No. Title Writer(s) Length
10. "Night School"   3:23
11. "Save It for Later" Roger Charlery, Andy Cox, Everett Morton, David Steele, Dave Wakeling 4:58
12. "Hiding Out (12" mix)" (Previously released on 12" single)   5:50
Bonus Tracks (2006 Japan Release)
No. Title Length
10. "Secondhand Love" (Live in Brixton)  
11. "Face The Face" (Live in Brixton)  

Non-album tracks[edit]

  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)


Additional personnel



Year Chart Peak
1985 Billboard 200 26 [5]


Year Single Chart Peak
1985 "Give Blood" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 5 [6]
1985 "Face the Face" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 3 [6]
1986 "Secondhand Love" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 32 [6]
1986 "Face the Face" Billboard Hot 100 26 [6]


Organization Level Date
RIAA – U.S. Gold 22 January 1986 (1986-01-22) [7]


  1. ^ White City: A Novel at AllMusic
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ a b c d e f Miles, Barry; Andy Mabbett (1994). Pink Floyd the visual documentary ([Updated ed.] ed.). London :: Omnibus,. ISBN 0-7119-4109-2. 
  4. ^ "Pete Townshend Night School". YouTube. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "allmusic (((White City: A Novel > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums)))". Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  6. ^ a b c d "allmusic (((White City: A Novel > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles)))". Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  7. ^ "RIAA Gold and Platinum". Archived from the original on 26 June 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-08.