"Sun City" - Artists Against Apartheid


U2 Related Content:

Full Track Listing:

  • Sun City – Artists Against Apartheid (7:13)
  • No More Apartheid – Peter Gabriel and Shankar (7:10)
  • Revolutionary Situation – Rap Artists from Artists Against Apartheid (6:09)
  • Sun City (Version II) – Artists Against Apartheid (5:45)
  • Let Me See Your ID – Rap and Jazz Artists from Artists Against Apartheid (7:31)
  • The Struggle Continues – Jazz Artists from Artists Against Apartheid (7:05)
  • Silver and Gold – Bono with Keith Richards and Ron Wood (4:44)

Bonus Track (USA CD):

  • Sun City (The Last Remix) – Artists Against Apartheid (9:37)

Bonus Track (France CD):

  • Sun City (7-Inch Edit) – Artists Against Apartheid (04:58)
  • Not So Far Away (Dub Version) – Artists Against Apartheid (05:54)
  • Sun City (The Last Remix) – Artists Against Apartheid (9:37)

Background Information

“Sun City” was a project brought together by Little Steven aka Steven Van Zandt. Sun City was a resort in South Africa that catered to wealthy white tourists. Many artists would perform there despite South Africa’s racist Apartheid policy at the time. Van Zandt discovered Sun City while traveling in Africa after finishing on a Springsteen tour. He was disgusted that western artists would play such a facility, and decided to organize the “Sun City” project upon his return to the USA, after further inspiration struck hearing Peter Gabriel’s “Biko”. The idea was to get artists to make it known that they were not going to play “Sun City” until such time that the apartheid laws had changed.

Originally planning a song on his album about “Sun City” Little Steven would end up rethinking his initial approach to the project, and decided to release the tune as a single. Rather than performing the song himself, however, he considered using artists from various genres to sing one verse each, hoping to break down musical separatism in the United States as well as apartheid in South Africa.

A total of 49 performers joined together on the track. The album featured three different mixes of the title track, as well as a number of tracks recorded quickly by the artists on the project and inspired by the recording of the title track. Bono is present on all three mixes of “Sun City”. He also contributed a new song he wrote for the project titled “Silver and Gold”. Bono arrived just hours before the album was to be mastered with the song, which Van Zandt said he could not pass up.

“It’s kind of a country-blues song,” Bono said at the time, adding he was “inspired” to write it after spending the night with the Rolling Stones. Keith Richards and Ron Wood helped Bono record the track, which the U2 singer called “a gift” to Van Zandt. During the recording session in Bono’s hotel room, Wood ended up using Richard’s pocket knife as a slide when playing his guitar. Bono said his involvement in Sun City was humanistically rather than politically motivated. “People try to put it across as propaganda, that it’s the left or the right,” said Bono. “This is apolitical. It doesn’t matter what side you’re on — this is common sense.”

A video clip was filmed for “Sun City” by directors Godley and Creme, working with Jonathan Demme and Hart Perry, which featured all of the performers on the “Sun City” recording in the streets of New York. It was cut with clips of South African unrest, and clips from the sixties civil-rights struggles in the USA.

Vocals on “Sun City” were performed by the following artists: Grandmaster Melle Mel, Duke Bootee, Bambaataa, Kurtis Blow, Big Youth, David Ruffin, Pat Benatar, Eddie Kendrick, Bruce Springsteen, George Clinton, Joey Ramone, Jimmy Cliff, Daryl Hall, Darlene Love, Run DMC, Linton Kwesi, Johnson, Bonnie Raitt, Ruben Blades, John Oates, Lou Reed, Bobby Womack, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, Peter Garrett, Nona Hendryx, Kashif, and Bono.

The album was initially released on vinyl and cassette in 1985, with the title track also being released as a single. The album on vinyl included “Sun City”, the “Version II” remix, and the Bono solo track for U2 content, along with a number of non-U2 related tracks. When finally released on CD in 1993 by Razor & Tie in the US, an additional track, “Sun City (The Last Remix)” was added to the release.

A special limited edition on CD in France released in 1996 on CD also contained “Sun City (7-Inch Edit)” and “Not So Far Away (Dub Version)”. Only the first contained Bono on vocals. The CD was produced in Italy for the French market. This long-out-of-print French CD is the only place to date to get the “Sun City (7-Inch Edit)” in CD format.

In late 2019, Little Steven announced a limited edition boxed set of all of his albums on vinyl, including Sun City and Born Again Savage both featuring U2 content. It wasn’t until after this box set initially sold out that it was announced that each of these records would be made available for sale in a digital format. Later still it was announced each album would be available first in vinyl format, and later in CD format. Almost a year after the initial box set was announced, a second boxed set was announced, this time containing all of the albums in CD format. The album releases in vinyl and CD did not contain any of the bonus tracks, and just feature the tracks featured on the original vinyl. A CD of rarities included in the vinyl boxed set and in the CD boxed set does contain “Sun City (The Last Remix).” The tracks for these 2019-2020 reissues are remastered versions of the original. The 2019-2020 reissues of Sun City were released in high resolution digital on December 6, 2019, on stand alone vinyl on March 13, 2020, and as a stand alone CD on July 24, 2020. The vinyl box set of albums was released December 6, 2019, and the CD box set of albums was released July 31, 2020.

Liner Notes

Silver and Gold:
Features Bono, Keith Richards, and Ron Wood. Words and music by Bono.

Sun City:
Words and music by Little Steven. Drums: Ringo Starr, Zak Starkey, Keith LeBlanc, Tony Williams. Guitars: Pete Townshend, Stanley Jordan, Little Steven. Bass Guitar: Doug Wimbish. Acoustic Bass: Ron Carter. Keyboards: Herbie Hancock, Richard Scher, Robbie Kilgore. Additional Keyboards: Zoe Yanakis. Trumpet: Miles Davis. Saxophone: Clarence Clemons. Double Violin: Shankar. Conga: Ray Barretto. Talking Drum: Sonny Okosuns. Scratchers: Jam Master Jay, D.J. Cheese. Drum Programming: Little Steven, Benjamin Newberry, Keith LeBlanc. Background vocals by BLT: B.J. Nelson, Lottie Golden, Tina B. Additional background vocals: Daryl Hannah, Kevin McCormick, The Dunnes Stores Strikers, Annie Brody Dutka, and the I.D.3: Gil Scott Heron, Robert Gordon, Steve Walker.

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