Sometimes when a member of a very successful group releases a solo album, it runs the risk of being proportionally as good or proportionally as bad as the group’s work. This is not the case with White City: A Novel by Pete Townshend. It is a surprisingly solid record all the way through. With this album, Townshend gives us a glimpse of life in an area of London where he had grown up. All the songs are sung by Townshend and he provides a couple of high spots with “Brilliant Blues” and “Hiding Out”. I believe the only song that got any radio play during its release was “Face The Face”. This is one of those you either hate it or love it songs. The song is catchy in an embarrassing kind of way, but as far as serious writing, it is a throwaway song. There is also a corresponding film that was released with this. I have never seen it, but I would be interested in watching it.
This album can be labeled with the dreaded moniker of “concept album”. I know that phrase makes some cringe, but don’t be worried. If you are looking for a solid rock album with some catchy tunes and some really good music, this is the album for you. The songs can stand on their own and there is no comparison to the music of The Who. Townshend was always the driving force behind the lyrics anyway and he shows on this album that he hasn’t lost his touch. It is an older Townshend reflecting on his past. There might not be an anthem like “Won’t get Fooled Again” on this, but there doesn’t need to be. It is a really good album from an artist, who at the time, was starting to change his direction of songwriting. Give it a chance and I am sure you will find it is worth a listen.
Thanks for reading,