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."
|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|
|RIAA – U.S.||Gold|