White City: A Novel

White City: A Novel is a solo album by Pete Townshend of The Who. The concept album was released in 1985 on Atco (see 1985 in music).

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 grew 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's soaring guitar work, 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 brilliant, crashing guitar chords that nicely capture a feeling of urban chaos, leading into "Give Blood," a song with Townshend's trademark, moral lyrics demanding listeners to "give blood, but you may find that blood is not enough."

The disc also mentions a film based on the album, directed and "adapted for longform video" by Richard Lowenstein. The video, entitled "White City: The Music Movie," was released by Vestron Music Video in 1985 and stars Pete Townshend, Andrew Wilde, and Frances Barber; it is approximately 60 minutes long. The videotape also features exclusive footage of Pete Townshend discussing the album and film, and the premiere performance of "Night School."

"White City Fighting"

The track "White City Fighting" originated as a tune written by David Gilmour for his second solo album About Face. He asked Townshend to supply lyrics, but felt that the ones provided to him were not something to which he could relate, so Townshend used the song instead, with Gilmour playing guitar. Gilmour sent the same tune to Roy Harper, whose lyrics had the same effect on Gilmour. Harper used the result, "Hope", which has a markedly slower tempo, on his 1985 album with Jimmy Page called Whatever Happened to Jugula?.

Track listing

All songs written by Pete Townshend except as noted.

  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)

  1. "Night School" – 3:23
  2. "Save It for Later" (Roger Charlery, Andy Cox, Everett Morton, David Steele, Dave Wakeling) – 4:58
  3. "Hiding Out" (12" mix) – 5:50 previously released on 12" single

Bonus Tracks (2006 Japan Release)

  1. "Secondhand Love" (Live in Brixton) – mm:ss
  2. "Face the Face" (Live in Brixton) – mm:ss

Non-album Tracks

  1. "Face the Face" (Vocal Long Version) – 6:08 Available on 12" US and European Singles
  2. "Hiding Out" (Instrumental version) – mm:ss 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) – 3:59 Available on 12" US promo single


Additional personnel



Year Chart Peak
1985 Billboard 200 26


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


Organization Level Date


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