'SUN CITY' DOCUMENTARY VIDEO PACKS A SHARP JAB

Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis is outraged. "Sun City (the lavish resort complex in a South African 'homeland') makes me ill . . . sick all over. When I think about it, I can't do (anything). . . . I can't even play," he declares.

Pop-rock singer Daryl Hall is angry. "People (who perform in Sun City) are jerks for doing it (and) they should be called out for it," he maintains.

South African black activist Winnie Mandela is determined. "We are no longer prepared to prolong our suffering. We are no longer prepared to prolong our own slavery. The oppressed people of this land want their liberation now and there's nothing to be negotiated about that," she insists.

These statements--pulled from the new "The Making of Sun City" videocassette--may not be your idea of pop entertainment, but entertainment was never the primary goal of the musicians--notably songwriter Steve Van Zandt and producer Arthur Baker--behind the "Sun City" album project.

There are light moments in the 45-minute documentary ($19.95, released by Karl-Lorimar), including a gracious Miles Davis reply in the recording studio to singer Bonnie Raitt's enthusiasm over his trumpet playing: "Well, that's my thang . . . . That's why I was born."

But the purpose of the "Sun City" recording--a blistering attack against apartheid in South Africa--was to jolt, and most of this documentary lives up to that spirit.

The documentary starts off with the "Sun City" promotional video that's been widely shown on MTV and other pop video forums--the video that ends poignantly with footage of South African blacks standing behind barbed wire, softly singing.

Against this disheartening backdrop, the "Making of" continues briefly on a clumsy note, with glad-handing by the musicians as they begin work in the studio and obligatory interviews with some of them who have little worthwhile to say.

Gradually, however, the documentary focuses more effectively on the issue of apartheid and on the passion of the musicians who made "Sun City" such a commanding record. There are also interviews with South African musicians and representatives of the Africa Fund, which will distribute royalties from the album and documentary to families of political prisoners in South Africa.

These elements give "The Making of Sun City" a purpose and power that establish it as one of the few pop/rock videocassettes that even pretends to do more than promote an album or try to parlay an evening's concert into some extra cash for the artist.

With more money and time, "The Making" could have been a more fully realized documentary. But it was designed as a sharp, urgent, immediate jab at pop consciousness at a time when too many people thought their social obligation had ended the day they wrote a check to Live Aid.

"Sun City" reminds us that the agenda is still heavy.

ON CABLE: "Well, it's one for the money / Two for the show / Three to get ready / Now, go, cat go . . . / But don't you / Step on my blue suede shoes."

Those lyrics--among the most celebratory opening lines in early rock--define the tone of "A Rockabilly Session--Carl Perkins & Friends." In this wonderfully lively and nostalgic special, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Dave Edmunds, Rosanne Cash and others salute rock pioneer Perkins. The special will debut at 10 p.m. Sunday on Cinemax, the pay-TV outlet, and be repeated five times during the month.

Where these all-star gatherings are often stiff, unconvincing affairs, this one conveys the musicians' own excitement and fun as they go through early rockabilly hits, including some associated with Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. Three of Perkins' early recordings, including "Honey Don't" and "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby," were redone by the Beatles, and Starr and Harrison step in engagingly to take the lead vocals on them.

LIVE ACTION: Twisted Sister will be at the Forum on Feb. 22 with Dokken. Tickets go on sale Monday. . . . Tickets also go on sale Monday for the Miami Sound Machine's appearance Feb. 1 at the Beverly Theatre.

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