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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Pete Townshend

White City

Review by Larry Toering

When White City was released I remember some commotion about Pete Townshend not being able to make up his mind about what the project was going to be, using a working title of  “The Deep End” for the band at one point. I was pretty confused before it came out , contributing to a lack of enthusiasm about it. Then one day I heard this pop sort of number on the radio. It was “Face The Face,” and it was enough for me to instantly get excited and pick up a copy early on. It's a concept album that doesn't bore the non prog listeners with overlong tracks that can sometimes be a case of “less is more” for the average fan. Townshend put together a solid line-up for this, featuring the likes of David Gilmour, along with the Kick Horns who I just love, and Pino Paladino on bass, Simon Philips on drums and a whole list of other players who contributed to this often under-rated story line album that also sported a film based on it (and vice versa).

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Give Blood

This is all part of the running concept on this disc. It's a very catchy opener with a positive message. The idea is to start and never stop giving, and it deals with how that is gone about and the ups and downs concerning donating.

Brilliant Blues

There aren't any duds on here, and although this one takes a while to grow. Regardless of its striking title, it's the type of lighthearted poppy number that Townshend is often famous for, and at the end of the day it doesn't disappoint.

Face The Face

Starting with some piano before going into the main track, this is one of the more exposed numbers of all here, as Townshend welcomes everyone to the Deep End and breaks out a dual tone narrative. Yet it features a punchy chorus including female background vocals. As this is one of the catchier numbers it still isn't the best thing here. I still never get tired of it, though. It's Townshend through and through, as he plays around to an entertaining effect complete with horns.

Hiding Out

This is a lovely little piece of fun but again not of the best of the pack. It holds its place firmly alongside the rest of the tunes. The structure is much more vocally dominated than most on White City.

Secondhand Love

Not being that far into things yet, I have to say this is where it all pays off. What a fantastic track this baby is, and like most of these tracks it stands the test of time so well. I easily rate it right up there with “Let My Love Open The Door” and a few other of Townshend’s best. Just before the bridge Townshend repeats himself about giving blood, to remind one of the concept which can tend to sound rather scattered about the disc with mentions here and there, instead of a glued thread. This keeps the whole album interesting for me.

Crashing By Design

This is another highlight. In fact it's a favorite as well. It’s just one of those tunes that has never left my mind since the first time I heard it. This is great stuff!

I Am Secure

More keys and a cracking drum open this very interesting, if a bit on the micro-modern side for Townshend, number. Then it goes into an acoustic motif and a very lighthearted vocal that works surprisingly well. This is probably personal to Townsend's life story as much as anything here.

White City Fighting

This finds him recalling brawls of yesteryear, “prone to violence” he cries out to his peers for a crucial  remembering of it all. It deals with resisting temptation and its benefits in the street.

Come To Mama

Things close with a superb instrumental piece that helps make the disc a success. This is for me probably up with the best three or four cuts. I haven't always liked it as much as I do now, so along with the rest of the album it stands up very well.

 
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