White City: A Novel

White City: A Novel is the fourth solo studio album by English rock musician Pete Townshend, released on 11 November 1985 by Atco Records.[3] Chris Thomas produced the album (who had also produced Townshend's previous two albums, Empty Glass and All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes) and it was recorded by Bill Price at three separate recording studios in London, England, which were both of the Eel Pie studios, and A.I.R.

White City: A Novel
White City A Novel.jpg
Studio album by
Released11 November 1985 (1985-11-11)
LabelAtco (US)
ProducerChris Thomas
Pete Townshend chronology
White City: A Novel
Deep End Live!
Singles from White City: A Novel
  1. "Face the Face"
    Released: 1985
  2. "Give Blood"
    Released: 1985
  3. "Secondhand Love"
    Released: 1986
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3.5/5 stars [1]
Rolling Stone(positive) [2]

The album peaked at No. 70 on the UK Albums Chart, and at No. 26 on the US Billboard 200. The album also reached the Top 20 in five other countries, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland.


A loose concept album, its title refers to a story (called a "novel" in the album title) that accompanies the album, of 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 reissue as a bonus track.

Album contentsEdit

The track "White City Fighting" originated as a composition written by David Gilmour for his 1984 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 listingEdit

All tracks are 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 tracksEdit

  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)


Credits are adapted from the White City: A Novel liner notes.[5]

Chart performanceEdit

Chart Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[7] 16
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[8] 26
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[9] 31
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[10] 15
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[11] 20
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[12] 17
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[13] 11
UK Albums (OCC)[14] 70
US Billboard 200[15] 26


Organization Level Date
RIAA – U.S. Gold 22 January 1986 (1986-01-22) [16]


  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. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Pete Townshend – White City: A Novel". Hung Medien. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  8. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Pete Townshend – White City: A Novel" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  9. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Pete Townshend – White City: A Novel" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  10. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Pete Townshend – White City: A Novel" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  11. ^ "Charts.nz – Pete Townshend – White City: A Novel". Hung Medien. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  12. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Pete Townshend – White City: A Novel". Hung Medien. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Pete Townshend – White City: A Novel". Hung Medien. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  14. ^ "Pete Townshend | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  15. ^ "White City: A Novel Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  16. ^ "RIAA Gold and Platinum". Archived from the original on 26 June 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-08.

External linksEdit