White City is the third part of what I see as a trilogy of albums reflecting Townshend's emotional states outwith the rock lunacy of The Who. First up was the rough edged Empty Glass, in which Townshend seemed to be battling his demons and addictions. His next solo effort was the clean & sober Chinese Eyes, in which Townshend embraced the 80's, while trying to compensate for his past, most notable in the track Somebody Saved Me. Finally we come to White City, in which Townshend finally comes home, retracing his steps back to the area where he grew up. Consistantly one of our finest and most imaginative songwriters, Townshend's work is literature combined with music, there to tell a story, to say something about who we are, as well as who he is. For me, these three albums are a vital part of my collection and no matter what my mood, there's always something there to reflect on.
Good reviews here and I'm not going to comment on them, because the ongoing problem for so many bands/artists is the missing tracks. PT is no exception, in fact his music suffers horribly in this manner, be it solo or band tracks. So, what's missing here to make this a truly brilliant and complete album? Half a dozen sings actually, plus three more demos. All of them either brilliant or very good. It is so frustrating to do some homework and find out what has been omitted. And when the lot are put together, plus the album, it all fits neatly onto a 70-minute home-made CD. 1) After the Fire. From Deep End Live (PT version which fits the rest of the album) or Daltrey's Anthology. 2, 3 & 4) Lonely Words; All Lovers Are Deranged; Commonwealth Boys (from PT's Scoop series). 5) Night School which is included in the remastered version. I don't possess this remaster, but there are two completely different versions of Night School available, and I hope it is the decent version on here, the other is terrible. I've saved the best till last. 6) Life to Life. Simply brilliant, maybe he sold out what would have been one of the album's very best songs to be the title track for a film called "Playing for Keeps". Essential, and one of his very best of all time. So powerful. The three demos are You'll Never Be Alone Again, A Man Without a Woman, and Why Did You Stand So Close to that Man Last Night. The whole album is an update (as someone mentions above) of Quadrophenia, in which the hero (anti-hero?) returns to his dire London housing estate both disabled and as a drunkard. Quad didn't have a happy ending, and this "novel" doesn't have one either, it is all about grim & stark reality, but as always with PT songs, they never ever disappoint. If anyone wants any of the songs I've listed, contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org -- but only if you're going to make a complete CD of the whole project, because concept albums are always core to PT and his music. This one actually is one of the best and right up there with Quad itself.
The soundtrack to a very hard-to-find video, White City finds Pete doing what he does best. Reflecting. Although a lot of the symbolism will mean nothing to anyone outside London (White City is a London housing estate apparently) the images can be applied to anywhere. We all know someone who 'drives to comittees in their German car'...we can all 'look over chequered fields to see the towering web of steel'. Some fantastic guitar work by Dave Gilmour finishes off this unusual album...I dock the CD one star for not including the extensive sleeve notes provided with the vinyl version I bought oh so many years ago! This is a sort of Solo Quadrophenia.