We're a geek couple living in PA with our two boys -- Milo and Otis -- who are short, orange, and furry. Oh, and they're the cats we're bookended by! We love music, movies, TV, comics, books, and comic cons. And, from time to time, we'll share our thoughts on these nerdy things.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for September 16, 2017 (On a Saturday)



[Sun City] -- December 1985 saw the release of "the most political of all of the charity rock albums of the 1980s" (per AllMusic). I wrote about it on it's 30th anniversary, but given what we're seeing in the news on a regular basis, I think now is a good time to revisit it. It's a damn good reminder of how far we've come ... and how much further we still have to go ... as a society.

Sun City (1985) was a protest album driven by Steven Van Zandt (perhaps best known for his affiliation with  Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band) and Artists United Against Apartheid. The name pretty much tells you what the group was all about. They recorded two versions of the song, "Sun City," and other material for this album. The personnel assembled by Van Zandt reads like a who's who of popular and critically acclaimed artists of the mid-80s. For example:
  • Little Steven (Van Zandt) – vocals, guitar, drum programming
  • Kool DJ Herc, Peter Wolf, Pat Benatar, Joey Ramone, Jimmy Cliff, Daryl Hall, Lou Reed, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, Nona Hendryx, Kashif, Peter Garrett, Malopoets, Gil Scott-Heron, Afrika Bambaataa, Rubén Blades, Bono, George Clinton, Peter Gabriel, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Bonnie Raitt, Run DMC, Bruce Springsteen, John Oates, Michael Monroe, Darlene Love, The Fat Boys, and others – vocals
  • Zak Starkey, Tony Williams, Ringo Starr – drums
  • Sonny Okosuns – talking drums
  • Keith LeBlanc, Benjamin Newman – drum programming
  • Pete Townshend, Stanley Jordan, Keith Richards, Ron Wood – guitars
  • L. Shankar – double violin
  • Clarence Clemons – saxophone
  • Miles Davis – trumpet
  • Herbie Hancock, Richard Scher, Robby Kilgore, Zoe Yanakis – keyboards
  • Doug Wimbish – bass; Ron Carter – acoustic bass
  • Jam Master Jay, DJ Cheese – scratches
Sun City didn't achieve great commercial success, but it did peak at #31 on the Billboard 200 pop albums chart. It did, however, receive critical acclaim in abundance, reaching #5 on the Pazz & Jop Critics Poll (yes, that's really the name) for albums for that year. 

Flashback #1"Meanwhile people are dying | And giving up hope | This quiet diplomacy | Ain't nothing but a joke."

Written by Steven Van Zandt and performed by Artists United Against Apartheid, "Sun City" is a powerful protest song. It brings rockers and rappers together, channeling anger and frustration into an amazing 80s tune. Sort of a "We Are The World," but with teeth ... and a little funk.   




Flashback #2Instrumental

The artists in Artists United Against Apartheid weren't limited to rock or rap. Jazz artists  Miles Davis, Stanley Jordan, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Okosuns, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, and Richard Scher joined forces for the "The Struggle Continues." This is incredible because Hancock, Carter, and Williams are three of the four musicians who were part of the 2nd version of the Miles Davis Quintet (the "Second Great Quintet" of 1964 to 1969) with the added bonus of a guitar solo by Stanley Jordan. 




Flashback #3"First time I heard there was trouble in the Middle East, I thought they were talking about Pittsburgh."

Is there a topic more likely to enrage both the left and the right than that of identification? It could be about physical ID cards (for purchasing guns or even voting). Or it could be about gender or race identification and politics. In 1985's "Let Me See Your I.D.," hip-hop luminaries like Mele-Mel, Scorpio from GM Flash, Kurtis Blow, and the Fat Boys joined Gil Scott-Heron for a commentary on the issue of identity papers in South Africa. However, there are chilling parallels to what minorities are still experiencing here today in the U.S. 




Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

And if you are on Twitter, and feel so inclined, please +K my influence in Music on @klout.

I'll see you in seven!

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