White City: A Novel

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White City: A Novel
White City A Novel.jpg
Studio album by
Released11 November 1985 (1985-11-11)
StudioEel Pie Studio, Twickenham; Eel Pie Studio, Soho, London; A.I.R. Studios, London
LabelAtco (US)
ProducerChris Thomas
Pete Townshend chronology
White City: A Novel
Deep End Live!
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3.5/5 stars [1]
Rolling Stone(positive) [2]

White City: A Novel is a solo concept album by English musician Pete Townshend of rock band the Who. It was originally released in November 1985, on Atco.[3]


The album's 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 district 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 Pink Floyd's 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".[4]


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 composition 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 Townshend's 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 tracks written by Pete Townshend, except where noted.

Side one
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
Side two
6."Crashing by Design" 3:14
7."I Am Secure" 4:00
8."White City Fighting"
9."Come to Mama" 4:40
Total length:38:27

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)


Adapted from the White City: A Novel liner notes.[5]

Additional personnel


Chart performance[edit]


Year Chart Peak
1985 Billboard 200 26 [7]


Year Single Chart Peak
1985 "Give Blood" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 5 [8]
1985 "Face the Face" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 3 [8]
1986 "Secondhand Love" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 32 [8]
1986 "Face the Face" Billboard Hot 100 26 [8]


Organization Level Date
RIAA – U.S. Gold 22 January 1986 (1986-01-22) [9]


  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.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  4. ^ "Give Blood Lyrics". Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  5. ^ White City: A Novel (CD booklet). Pete Townshend. Atco Records. 1985.CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. ^ "Pete Townshend Night School". YouTube. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  7. ^ "allmusic (((White City: A Novel > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums)))". Retrieved 8 August 2008.
  8. ^ a b c d "allmusic (((White City: A Novel > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles)))". Retrieved 8 August 2008.
  9. ^ "RIAA Gold and Platinum". Archived from the original on 26 June 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-08. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)

External links[edit]