Tuesday, September 11, 2018

"Face the Face" by Pete Townshend

Song#:  2524
Date:  11/09/1985
Debut:  87
Peak:  26
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  For his third solo effort of the decade, Townshend decided to do a concept album, his first since The Who's classic 1973's rock opera Quadrophenia. While that album and 1969's Tommy were sprawling double albums that were eventually made into films and stage shows, Townshend's White City: A Novel would be a lean nine track set that would be released in conjunction with a longform video titled White City: The Music Movie. The LP's story centers on life in a low-income housing area of London's White City district. To promote the disc, this first single was issued out. It was a hit at Rock getting to #3 while cracking the Pop Top 30. The album would also peak at #26 and eventually reach gold-level sales. Unfortunately, it would be Townshend's final single to reach the Pop chart. The LP would generate two other Rock chart entries including the #5 "Give Blood."

ReduxReview:  I can't honestly say what attracted me to this song back in the day. I wasn't a fan of The Who at the time and so Townshend would have been far off my radar. Yet there was something about the song's quick beat, horn section, and Townshend's delivery that got my attention and I bought the single. Strangely, I didn't purchase the album, which had a couple of other tasty tracks that I liked, especially "Give Blood." While the concept was kind of lost on me, I thought it was a solid effort from Townshend and it did end up making me buy his next concept LP (see below).

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Townshend's follow-up to this album was the 1989 musical adaptation of the 1968 Ted Hughes sci-fi novel The Iron Giant. This time around for the concept album, Townshend enlisted the help of other musicians such as his former Who band mates along with John Lee Hooker and Nina Simone. The album would spawn the #3 Rock hit "A Friend is a Friend," which was performed by Townshend. An actual stage version of the musical would be mounted in 1993 and it proved to be successful enough for Warner Bros. to want in and do a film version. By the time the animated film was completed in 1999, Townshend's songs were eliminated and the story altered. Despite the changes, Townshend was credited as an executive producer and paid accordingly. Directed by a pre-Pixar Brad Bird, the film was a critical success, but audiences stayed away. It was a box office dud at the time, but thanks to home video and cable, the movie did find an audience and it became a bit of a cult hit.


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