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All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes

All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes is the third official solo album by English rock musician and songwriter Pete Townshend, guitarist for The Who.

All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes
Studio album by
Released14 June 1982
StudioEel Pie Studios,
A.I.R. Studios, and
Wessex Sound Studios, London
LabelAtco (United States)
ProducerChris Thomas
Pete Townshend chronology
Empty Glass
All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes

It was produced by Chris Thomas (who also produced Empty Glass) and was recorded by Bill Price at Eel Pie, A.I.R. and Wessex studios in London, England.

The album contains some compositions salvaged from later albums by The Who.


Recording and productionEdit

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 band 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 titleEdit

Pete 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 for the unusual moniker.[3]

Video releaseEdit

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:

"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." [4]

This video 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 video websites on the Internet.

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [5]
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]

Track listingEdit

All songs written by Pete Townshend, except where noted.

1."Stop Hurting People" 3:55
2."The Sea Refuses No River"Pete Townshend, Alan Rogan5:53
3."Prelude"Pete Townshend, Andy Newman1:31
4."Face Dances, Pt. 2" 3:24
5."Exquisitely Bored" 3:41
6."Communication" 3:19
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 band may also be found on The Who's 1997 re-release of their 1981 album Face Dances) 4:51
11."Slit Skirts" 4:54
Bonus Tracks (2006 Reissue)
13."Man Watching"2:32
14."Dance It Away"3:38




  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. Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. (372): 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 0857125958.
  7. ^ a b Pareles, John (5 August 1982). "All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes". Rolling Stone. Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. (375): 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". 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.CS1 maint: Untitled periodical (link)
  11. ^ Stylus Magazine review