I’m working from home today because it’s a holiday for just about everybody but me. HRH is also home from school today which means I have the added responsibility for keeping her entertained as well; talk about “Super Step-Dad”! Fortunately, keeping her occupied these days is as easy as plopping her in the corner of the couch with some dusty vinyl, specifically the ‘Sun City‘ album.
Remember this gem from the 80’s (click HERE)? I sure do. I loved this when it was first released. So how did if happen to end up in HRH‘s collection? Well, when we were at the St. Catharines Record Fair a few weeks ago a kind vendor offered to let her choose any album for free from a big dusty box under the counter. After 30 minutes or so of dedicated hunting and pecking through the collection of misbegotten albums, this is what she eventually emerged with…covered in dust and thoroughly excited.
The song ‘Sun City‘ of which this album is based, was a 1985 protest song written by Steven Van Zandt, produced by Van Zandt and Arthur Baker and recorded by Artists United Against Apartheid to convey opposition to the South African policy of apartheid. The primary means of that opposition is to declare that all the artists involved would refuse any and all offers to perform at Sun City, a resort which was located within the Bantustan of Bophuthatswana, one of a number of internationally unrecognized states created by the South African government to forcibly relocate its black population.
Pretty deep for an 11-year-old girl though, right?
But once I explained that it also had a whole wack of popular artists like Grandmaster Melle Mel (who, for whatever reason, she absolutely flipped over), The Fat Boys, Bob Dylan, Herbie Hancock, Ringo Starr, Lou Reed, Run DMC, Peter Gabriel, Jackson Browne (and then-girlfriend Daryl Hannah), U2, Miles Davis, George Clinton, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Bonnie Raitt, Hall & Oates, Jimmy Cliff, Peter Garrett, Ron Carter, Pete Townshend, Pat Benatar, Clarence Clemons and Joey Ramone on it, many of whom she knows well and even has in her own collection – she was totally sold.
Best of all, the album even came with the original billfold manual that accompanied the released and she furiously flipped through it while the musicians preached the good word through the stereo speakers.
‘Sun City‘ only reached #38 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in December of 1985. Only about half of American radio stations played the song, with some objecting to the lyrics’ explicit criticism of President Ronald Reagan’s policy of “constructive engagement”. The song was banned in South Africa itself – no big surprise there. The song did somewhat better overseas, reaching #21 on the UK Singles Chart, #4 in Australia and achieving chart action in a number of other European countries, becoming a substantial hit in The Netherlands. It was also a top ten single in Canada in December of 1985 and January 1986. The album was picked as record of the year by many of the most influential music critics, topping the prestigious international Pazz & Jop Critics Poll for best single of the year.
Good choice, kiddo.