Revisiting The Sun City Album – 1985

When I lived in Ann Arbor, the world of charity/protest events via vinyl records came into focus. I was older and understood there were places on the earth that were not as fortunate as my little community. I didn’t watch the news that much but I did buy albums… that was my window on the world.

There was the “Concert For The People of Kampuchea”, “Concert For Bangladesh” and “No Nukes”. I remember being somewhat freaked about nuclear energy. Funny to look back on that now.

At any rate, as I aged there were more that I began to pay attention to. There was “We Are The World”, “Farm Aid” and “Live Aid” some of which I watched on TV. I taped some of the performances from “Live Aid” on cassette through my TV. Alas, those tapes have been lost.

The one event that struck me at the right time was “Sun City”. This was the protest of Apartheid organized by Little Steven and filled with celebrity guests. The song itself “Sun City” was a radio hit and an amalgam of all that talent dividing up the song lyrics. It was catchy and I dug it, but of course I had no idea what Apartheid was. Thus proving the exact point of the whole event.

For those that still don’t know… here is some info from Wiki.

If I remember correctly there was a 60 Minutes news story about Apartheid that was a real eye opener for me. Now I was making the connection and the amplified meaning of the song struck even harder. Where I would normally never even consider one of these ensemble albums, I decided to try this one out. I went and bought a copy.

I remember thinking that it was really short, only 6 songs, and that though I really dug “Sun City” and “Silver and Gold” I was a little disappointed with it overall. Man, I wish I could go back to my past self and smack a little sense into me. What can I say, I wanted it to be all like the song “Sun City” and it was not.

I recently came across a 12″ single of the track “Sun City” and picked it up.

That classic iconography on the front caught my eye. I thought it would be nice addition to my collection. I discovered 3 things when I went to play this.

One: I still love that song. Two: I didn’t recall the B-side track called “Not So Far Away (Dub Version)”.

Third: I thought I had replaced the “Sun City” album in my collection, I guess I never did! I couldn’t find the vinyl OR a CD version either. I would have sworn that I had it still.

I decided to give it another listen before deciding to purchase it again. After all, back in the day I had been somewhat disappointed. So I dialed it up on Spotify and listened to it. Turns out that a couple decades have been good to this music. I dug it all the way through, including the bonus tracks including “Not So Far Away (Dub Version)”. Mystery solved.

The tracks are rock, rap, cut up speech over music and fricking Miles Davis. I was shocked at my past self for not digging all this, because I sure do now. Now I decided to get a copy again. As you might expect it was pretty cheap. Shipping cost more than the album. My new used copy turned out to be pretty clean.

The list of guest appearances is pretty big and at this point in my life, I know most of them. There are pics of most on the inner sleeve.

This album is credited to Artists United Against Apartheid but it was largely organized by Little Steven from Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street band.

Here is a great video I found about the making of the album, which of course features music form the album. Well worth checking out.

The tracks as I mentioned are a great cross section of styles and genres and the CD version has a few extra tracks which are worth a listen. It is on Spotify if you want to check it out there.

Since I have started collecting records again I have been more inclined to buy those older charity/protest albums. I have picked up “Concert For The People of Kampuchea”, “Concert For Bangladesh” and “No Nukes” and have better trained ears with which to appreciate the music, but I have to say that this one is one I will go back to again and again.

Nice job Little Steven.


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