Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

Sun City

sun city

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, a number of other songs were recorded at the time, completing 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 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 his meetings with several of other artists who volunteered, Bono of U2 went back to his hotel room and wrote the song “Silver and Gold” that very evening. The song was quickly recorded for inclusion on the compilation, with Keith Richards and Ron Wood of The Rolling Stones accompanying him. Ron Wood’s guitar work is notable for using Keith’s switchblade as a slide. “Silver and Gold” was also issued separately as a promotional single.

“Silver and Gold” – Bono with Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood

Well in the shithouse a shotgun
Praying hands hold me down
Only the hunter has hunted
O in the Tincan town
Tincan town

No Stars in the black night
Look like the sky fall down
No sun in the daylight
Look like it…
Chained to the ground
Chained to the ground

Broken back to the ceiling
Broken nose to the floor
I scream at the silence that crawling
Crawls under the floor
Under the floor

The warden say
Exit’s sold
If you want a way out…
Silver and gold
Silver and gold

Hmmm rope around my neck
Ahhh trigger in your gun
Jesus, say something
I am someone
I am someone

Saw them coming and a going
Oh the captains and the kings
Ah the navy blue uniform
See them bright and shiney things
Bright and shiney things

Captains and kings
In the ships hold
Come to collect…
Silver and gold
Silver and gold

(I saw them a coming)
Temperature is a rising
Uh and the fever white hot
Mister I ain’t got nothing
But it’s more than you’ve got
Chains no longer bind me
Not the shackles at my feet
Outside are the prisoners
Inside the free
Set them free
Set them!

Prize fighter in a corner is told
Hit where it hurts
Silver and gold
Silver and gold

Yeah Silver and gold
Silver and gold
Silver and gold

You can stop the world from turning ’round
Just gotta pay your penny in the pound

Sun City was a modest commercial success, reaching #31 on the Billboard 200 pop albums chart. It did much better in terms of critical reaction, where it reached #5 on the Pazz & Jop Critics Poll for albums for that year. In 1989, Sun City got the final spot on Rolling Stones list of the best 100 albums of the 1980s.

In 1993, Sun City was issued on CD by Razor & Tie, but after the end of apartheid in 1994, the album eventually went out of print, becoming a highly-sought collectible item.

  • Tony Wright – cover art

artists against


To buy Sun City click HERE


October 20, 2009 - Posted by | Old Music, Video | , ,

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