Sun City (album)

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Sun City
Studio album by
ReleasedDecember 7, 1985
LabelEMI Manhattan Records
ProducerSteven Van Zandt
Arthur Baker
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars link
Christgau's Record GuideA–[1]
Rolling StoneNot rated link

Sun City was a 1985 album that contained several versions of the Steven Van Zandt-led Artists United Against Apartheid's "Sun City" protest song against apartheid in South Africa as well as other selections in the same vein from that project.


In addition to the title track, other songs were recorded at the time to complete an album's worth of material. Drummer-musician Keith LeBlanc and journalist Danny Schechter came up with "Revolutionary Situation", an audio-collage set to music that took its title from the words of South Africa's then-interior minister Louis Nel condemning the state of the country. Amid a background of yapping police dogs, sounds of mayhem and revolt in the township, LeBlanc and Schechter mixed in angry declarations by activists like Alan Boesak, Bishop Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela's daughter Zindzi, looped with what was at that time the most recent interview with her father, recorded in 1961.

Inspired by meetings with other artists who volunteered, Bono of U2 went back to his hotel room and wrote "Silver and Gold" the same evening. The song was quickly recorded, with Keith Richards and Ron Wood of The Rolling Stones, and Peter Wolf of The J. Geils Band. Wood's guitar work is notable for using Keith's switchblade as a slide. "Silver and Gold" was also distributed separately as a promotional single. A last-minute inclusion, the song was left off the track listings of the original 1985 album and cassette pressings and considered to be a hidden track. Bono later explained, in an appearance on the US syndicated radio show "Rockline" with Bob Coburn, that he submitted the tape of the song after the album's artwork had been printed by EMI Manhattan Records.[2] When Razor and Tie reissued the album in 1993, the song was included on the track listings. U2 also recorded two versions of the song: a live version in the Rattle and Hum film and album and a studio version on the B-side of "Where the Streets Have No Name".

"The scariest encounter of the Sun City project had to be Miles Davis," recalled Steven Van Zandt. "I wrote the intro for him to play… He's just not friendly. He makes Lou Reed look like a pussycat… He came in, sat down and I played him the 'Silver and Gold' tape. He's sitting next to me, and he talks real low and slow, and right in my ear: 'Hey man, do you want me to fucking play or what?' So he does his take, and I asked him to redo it with the mute on. I went and reassembled his old quintet with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter on bass and Tony Williams on drums."[3]

Sun City was a modest success, reaching #31 on the Billboard 200 pop albums chart. It did much better in terms of critical reaction, placing at #5 on the Pazz & Jop Critics Poll for albums for that year. Sun City got the final spot on Rolling Stone's list of the best 100 albums of the 1980s in 1989 and 2016.[4][5]

The album was issued on CD by Razor & Tie in 1993 – but, after the end of apartheid in 1994, eventually went out of print.

In 2019, the album was remastered for release as part of Van Zandt's career-spanning box set Rock N Roll Rebel: The Early Work. The digital deluxe edition of the album was released on December 6, 2019 containing four bonus tracks. The digital deluxe edition also includes the reissued Let Me See Your I.D. bonus EP.

Track listing[edit]

Side A[edit]

  1. "Sun City" (Steven Van Zandt) – Artists United Against Apartheid, featuring Zak Starkey, Ringo Starr – 7:12
  2. "No More Apartheid" (Peter Gabriel) – Peter Gabriel and L. Shankar – 7:10
  3. "Revolutionary Situation" – Rap Artists from Artists United Against Apartheid, compiled and edited by Keith LeBlanc and The News Dissector – 6:06

Side B[edit]

  1. "Sun City (Version II)" – Artists United Against Apartheid – 5:44
  2. "Let Me See Your I.D." – Rap and Jazz Artists from Artists United Against Apartheid, featuring Gil Scott-Heron, Miles Davis, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Peter Wolf, Sonny Okosuns, Malopoets, Duke Bootee, Ray Baretto, Peter Garrett – 7:30
  3. "The Struggle Continues" – Jazz Artists from Artists United Against Apartheid, featuring Miles Davis, Stanley Jordan, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Okosuns, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Richard Scher – 7:05
  4. "Silver and Gold" (Bono) – Bono with Keith Richards and Ron Wood – 4:42

CD Reissue Bonus track[edit]

  1. "Sun City (The Last Remix)" – Artists United Against Apartheid – 9:35

2019 Digital Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks[edit]

  1. "Soweto Nights (Studio Track - 1985)" - 4:58
  2. "The Struggle Continues (Extra Miles Davis Version - 1985)" - 9:51
  3. "Not So Far Away (Dub Mix) (UK 12" Single - 1985)" - 5:56
  4. "Sun City (Last Remix) (UK 12" Single - 1985)" - 9:36

2019 "Let Me See Your I.D." Bonus EP[edit]

  1. "Let Me See Your I.D. (Extended Mix) (12" Single - 1985)" - 9:51
  2. "Let Me See Your I.D. (Street Mix) (12" Single - 1985)" - 6:42
  3. "Let Me See Your I.D. (Beat And Scratch Mix) (12" Single - 1985)" - 5:14



  1. ^ Christgau, Robert (1990). "A". Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-679-73015-X. Retrieved August 16, 2020 – via
  2. ^ "Rockline Radio - Interviews and music from classic rockers and cutting edge superstars!".
  3. ^ Bell, Max: "Ever meet Hendrix?"; Classic Rock #138, November 2009, p40
  4. ^ Editors (1989-11-16). "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980's". Rolling Stone (565).CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  5. ^ "100 Best Albums of the Eighties". Rolling Stone. 16 November 1989. Retrieved 2016-11-21.