Zoot Suit Riot (album)

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Zoot Suit Riot: The Swingin' Hits of the Cherry Poppin' Daddies
Cherry Poppin' Daddies - Zoot Suit Riot.jpg
Compilation album by Cherry Poppin' Daddies
Released March 18, 1997
July 1, 1997 (Mojo re-issue)
January 13, 2017 (20th anniversary re-issue)
Recorded 1989–1997 at Gung Ho Studios in Eugene, Oregon
Genre Jazz, Swing
Length 51:28
Label Space Age Bachelor Pad Records
Mojo Records
Producer Steve Perry
Cherry Poppin' Daddies
Cherry Poppin' Daddies chronology
Kids on the Street
(1996)Kids on the Street1996
Zoot Suit Riot
Soul Caddy
(2000)Soul Caddy2000
Singles from Zoot Suit Riot
  1. "Zoot Suit Riot"
    Released: 1997
  2. "Brown Derby Jump"
    Released: 1998
  3. "Here Comes the Snake"
    Released: 1998

Zoot Suit Riot: The Swingin' Hits of the Cherry Poppin' Daddies is a compilation album and fourth album overall by American ska-swing band the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, released on March 18, 1997 on Space Age Bachelor Pad Records. The album is a collection of all of the swing-styled songs culled from the Daddies' first three ska punk-oriented albums, plus four bonus tracks recorded exclusively for this release.

After a successful independent release in early 1997, Zoot Suit Riot was re-issued and nationally distributed by major label subsidiary Mojo Records following the Daddies' subsequent signing to the label. By early 1998, regular radio airplay of the album's eponymous single helped propel Zoot Suit Riot to the top of Billboard's Top Heatseekers, eventually becoming the first "new swing" album to enter the Billboard Top 40 and serving as the catalyst for the short-lived swing revival of the late 1990s. While both the Daddies' and the swing revival's mainstream popularity would wane by the end of 1998, at its peak, Zoot Suit Riot reached number 17 on the Billboard 200, selling over two million copies in the United States and achieving gold record sales in several other countries.


By 1997, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies had eked out a living as a full-time independent band, having released three regionally successful studio albums and carving out a successful touring niche within the American third wave ska scene at a time when the genre was just beginning to generate mainstream commercial interest on the heels of bands such as No Doubt and Sublime.[1][2]

Following the unexpected popular success of the 1996 film Swingers and its featured band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, public attention started turning towards the formerly underground swing revival movement.[3] Though the Daddies had never been an active presence within the scene, the band soon began regularly attracting a sizable and receptive audience for their swing material, though eventually came to realize they lacked an album which fully represented this side of their music, and more so lacked the finances to record a new one. Singer-songwriter Steve Perry explained how the concept of a compilation came to be in an interview for The Daily of the University of Washington:


Recording for the album's bonus tracks took place in late 1996, and according to accounts by Perry, was hurried and carried out on a tight budget as the band "didn't have much bread to record".[5] In several instances, only single takes were used: at the end of the album's titular song, Perry is heard saying "I think I'm ready to sing it now", which he was signifying to the engineer after doing his first run-through of the song. The engineer instead told him it was a decent take and suggested keeping his comment in the final mix as an inside joke, to which Perry ultimately agreed ("Unbeknownst to us, it became a big hit record").[6]

Zoot Suit Riot was released through the Daddies' self-operated record label Space Age Bachelor Pad Records on March 18, 1997. In its initial pressing, the album became an unexpectedly popular item, reportedly selling as many as 4,000 copies a week through both the band's tours and their Northwest distributors.[7] Despite steady regional sales, obtaining wider distribution and marketing outside of the Northwest proved difficult through the band's entirely DIY label.[8] Following a national tour together, ska band Reel Big Fish helped arrange a meeting between the Daddies and their label Mojo Records in an attempt to score the band a distribution deal, negotiations of which instead led to the Daddies being signed to a record contract.[4][9] Zoot Suit Riot was re-issued and given national distribution by Mojo on July 1, 1997, less than four months after its original release.

By October 1997, the rising mainstream popularity of swing music had resulted in consistently steady sales of Zoot Suit Riot, motivating Mojo to release the album's title track as a single and distribute it among modern rock radio stations.[8] The Daddies, who were in preparation over recording a new studio album, ardently protested Mojo's decision under the belief that a swing song would never receive airplay on mainstream radio and the band would likely have to recoup the costs of its marketing.[4][10] Nevertheless, Mojo persisted, and to the band's surprise, "Zoot Suit Riot" soon found regular rotation on both college radio and major stations such as Los Angeles' influential KROQ-FM.[11]

Mainstream breakthrough[edit]

Following several months of steady radio airplay coupled with the Daddies' extensive touring schedule, Zoot Suit Riot eventually climbed to the #1 spot on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart, going on to become the first album of the swing revival to crack the top 40 of the Billboard 200 and peaking at #17, spending an ultimate total of 53 weeks on the charts.[11][12] In June 1998, the album achieved gold status after surpassing sales of 500,000 copies, reaching platinum status of over one million records sold two months later on August 25.[13][14] On January 28, 2000, Zoot Suit Riot was awarded double platinum status after selling over two million copies.[15]

The album's lead single, "Zoot Suit Riot", became a moderate radio hit, reaching #41 on the Hot 100 and appearing on numerous compilation albums, notably the very first US installment of Now That's What I Call Music!, while the surrealistic music video, directed by Gregory Dark and edited by Bob Murawski, earned a nomination for a "Best New Artist in a Video" award at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards.[12][16] Two additional singles were issued from Zoot Suit Riot, "Brown Derby Jump", for which a music video was filmed, and a remixed version of "Here Comes the Snake" from the Daddies' 1996 album Kids on the Street, though both singles failed to chart. According to Perry in a 2016 Tweet, "Drunk Daddy" was intended to be the second single released from Zoot Suit Riot, but at the time Seagram had controlling interest in MCA and Universal Music Group, and the band's proposal of issuing a single about a violent alcoholic father was dismissed.[17]

Once Zoot Suit Riot began rising up the charts in early 1998, Mojo insisted that the Daddies immediately began touring behind it, forcing the band to abandon their follow-up studio album which they had already started recording.[18][19] With a successful headlining tour of the United States supported by The Pietasters and Ozomatli, a North American tour opening for Los Fabulosos Cadillacs and international touring as part of the 1998 Vans Warped Tour, the Daddies would ultimately tour behind Zoot Suit Riot for over a solid year, playing nearly 300 shows in 1998 alone.[20] During this time, the band also made high-profile appearances on major television shows including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Show with David Letterman, The View and Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, each time performing their hit single "Zoot Suit Riot".[21][22]

By the end of the decade, both Zoot Suit Riot and the Daddies' mainstream popularity declined with that of the swing revival's. The album last appeared on the Billboard 200 on the week of February 27, 1999, charting at #193 before slipping off entirely.[23] To date, Zoot Suit Riot remains the only charting release of the Daddies' career.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[24]
Robert Christgau (dud)[25]

Despite the album's commercial success, Zoot Suit Riot met with largely mixed reactions from mainstream critics. Of the positive reviews, The Los Angeles Times, comparing albums by the most popular groups of the swing revival, chose the Daddies as having "the most effective music for the dance fad of the moment", citing the band's "suggestive lyrics and occasionally interesting musical textures" as their most distinguishing quality.[26] The New York Times described the Daddies as "one of the few neo-swing bands that can win over a skeptic with their rhythm section", noting Perry's lyricism as having "an inventiveness missing from most of the other swing bands' lyrics".[27]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic, however, gave the album a rating of 2.5 out of 5 stars, noting that while the Daddies pulled off "reasonably infectious" tunes, the modernist lyrics had lent Zoot Suit Riot a "condescending Gen-X attitude, as well as a lack of understanding about what made swing fun", writing the album off as a "smirking hipster joke, only without any humor and very little music".[28] Jazz critic Scott Yanow, in his 2000 book Swing!, labeled the Daddies as the perfect "whipping boy for the Retro Swing movement", noting "The Daddies sound as if they are a punk rock band who has chosen to masquerade as swing...the rhythm section has difficulty swinging, the vocals are often profane...the music, although excitable in spots, usually comes dangerously close to camp".[29]

Steve Perry's reflection on the album has been decidedly ambivalent, which he has described in interviews as being a "blessing as well as a curse", noting that while Zoot Suit Riot had exposed the Daddies' music to a wider audience and provided them with the financial stability to continue as a band, the success of the album continues to paint a one-dimensional image of the Daddies as an "orthodox swing band" over the prominently eclectic ska, punk and rock influences which largely feature in their music.[30][31][32]

20th Anniversary Edition[edit]

In mid-2014, Steve Perry revealed that he had re-obtained the rights to Zoot Suit Riot from Jive Records and planned to release a remixed version of the album. In interviews, Perry lamented the fact that the production of Zoot Suit Riot had been rushed and that only first takes had been used, noting that the band could have done "2 or 3 more" takes of the songs "if we had known the future back in 1996". He stated elsewhere " I guess my thought is, after 25 years [of the band], I would like to make the record sound a little better".[6][33][5]

Zoot Suit Riot: The 20th Anniversary Edition was released exclusively through the band on CD and vinyl on January 13, 2017, featuring five bonus live tracks recorded during the Zoot Suit Riot tour in 1998.[34]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Steve Perry, except where noted otherwise.

No. Title Length
1. "Zoot Suit Riot" 3:53
2. "The Ding-Dong Daddy of the D-Car Line" 3:31
3. "When I Change Your Mind" 2:29
4. "Here Comes the Snake" 3:18
5. "Mr. White Keys" 3:07
6. "Come Back to Me" (Burton Lane, Alan Jay Lerner) 2:39
7. "Brown Derby Jump" 2:58
8. "Dr. Bones" 3:34
9. "Pink Elephant" 3:40
10. "Master and Slave" 4:04
11. "Drunk Daddy" 5:10
12. "No Mercy for Swine" 4:02
13. "Cherry Poppin' Daddy Strut" 3:05
14. "Shake Your Lovemaker" 5:50
Total length: 51:28
  • Later Mojo pressings of the album included a hidden Spanish-language version of "Zoot Suit Riot" after a long period of silence in the same track as "Shake Your Lovemaker".

Previous availability[edit]

Original album Year Track
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Ferociously Stoned 1990 X X X X X X
Rapid City Muscle Car 1994 X X X X
Kids on the Street 1996 X
Previously unreleased 1997 X X X X
  • "2:29" was previously a B-side that appeared on the 7" single Vacationing in Palm Springs, and later appeared on the UK and Australian "Zoot Suit Riot" singles.


Cherry Poppin' Daddies

Band roster at the time of release of this compilation album:

Instrument Musician Track
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
vocals/guitar Steve Perry X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
bass Darren Cassidy X X X X X
Dan Schmid X X X X X X X X X X
trumpet/trombone Dana Heitman X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
guitar Jason Moss X X X X X X X X X
John Fohl X X X X
James Gossard X X
tenor saxophone Sean Flannery X X X X X X
James Phillips X X X X X X
Adrian Baxter X X X
alto/tenor saxophone Scott Hall X
Brooks Brown X X X X X X X X X
Ian Early X X X X
Rex Trimm X
drums Hans Wagner X X
Brian West X X X X X X X
W. Sean Wagoner X X X
Sean Oldham X
Tim Arnold X X
keyboards Chris Azorr X X X X X X X X X X X
Dustin Lanker X X X X
Additional musicians
  • Glen Bonney – trombone on tracks 1, 15
  • Bud Chase – tuba on track 3
  • Mark Alan – backing vocals on track 15
The First Church of Sinatra

Featured on track 6

  • Tim Allums – trumpet
  • Mark Berney – trumpet
  • Dave Van Handel – trombone
  • Glen Bonney – trombone
  • Wayne Conkey – bass trombone
  • Ross Warren – alto saxophone
  • Tim Wilcox – alto saxophone
  • James Phillips – tenor saxophone
  • Richard Coon (Temple)  – baritone saxophone


Year Chart Position
1998 Top Heatseekers 1
1998 Billboard 200 17
Year Single Chart Position
1998 "Zoot Suit Riot" Adult Top 40 16
1998 "Zoot Suit Riot" Modern Rock Tracks 15
1998 "Zoot Suit Riot" Top 40 Mainstream 32
1998 "Zoot Suit Riot" Hot 100 Airplay 41


  1. ^ "The Cherry Poppin' Daddies: Swingin' Since 1989". MTV.com. October 21, 1997. Retrieved March 16, 2010. 
  2. ^ Harwin, Lise (October 9, 1996). "Cherry Poppers Come Into Detroit". Michigan Daily. Archived from the original on October 15, 2004. Retrieved August 11, 2009. 
  3. ^ "AllMusic > Retro Swing". AllMusic. 
  4. ^ a b c Hollifield, Clayton (July 7, 1998). "Warped Tour Interview". The Daily of the University of Washington. 
  5. ^ a b "21 October, 2014". Instagram. 
  6. ^ a b Alleman, Annie (September 12, 2014). "Cherry Poppin' Daddies swing into the Mac". Sun-Times Media Group. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. 
  7. ^ Foyston, John (September 6, 1998). "Cherry Poppin' Daddies". The Oregonian. Archived from the original on June 22, 2001. Retrieved August 14, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b Fulmer, Carl; Coston, Daniel (1998). "Tangents Magazine Interview". Tangents Magazine. 
  9. ^ Warren, Mark (September 1997). "Cherry Poppin' Daddies". Focus Magazine (84). 
  10. ^ Kane, Laura (1998). "Pop Your Cherry". Lo-Fi Magazine. 
  11. ^ a b Morris, Chris (March 1998). "2 Daddies Swing Big". Billboard (Vol. 110, No. 12): 112. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  12. ^ a b "Cherry Poppin' Daddies - Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 
  13. ^ Stout, Gene (July 3, 1998). "Newfound Popularity of Ska Suits These Daddies Just Fine". Eugene Weekly. 
  14. ^ MTV News. 'Cherry Poppin' Daddies Singer Gets Platinum Record for Birthday' MTV News, 1998.
  15. ^ "RIAA - Gold & Platinum Search". RIAA.com. 
  16. ^ "Cherry Poppin' Daddies - "Zoot Suit Riot [version 2]"". Music Video Database. 
  17. ^ Perry, Steve (February 19, 2016). "cherrypoppindaddies on Twitter". Twitter. 
  18. ^ Taylor, Lewis (September 15, 2000). "Riotous Homecoming: Daddies return with new album, updated sound". The Register-Guard. 
  19. ^ Chandler, John (May 13, 1998). "Cherry Poppin' Daddies - No Mercy for Swine". The Rocket. 
  20. ^ duBrowa, Corey (December 1998). "Poppin' Off: Cherry Poppin' Daddies Take a Swing at Swing". Rolling Stone. 
  21. ^ 'New Year's Rockin' Eve 1998-1999'
  22. ^ Martin, Richard 'Timbre' Willamette Week. May 6, 1998.
  23. ^ "Cherry Poppin' Daddies - Billboard Overview". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 
  24. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Zoot Suit Riot – Cherry Poppin' Daddies". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved November 24, 2013. 
  25. ^ Christgau, Robert (1997). "Robert Christgau: Consumer Guide - Cherry Poppin' Daddies". Retrieved January 4, 2011. 
  26. ^ Heckman, Don (August 2, 1998). "Separating the Faddies From the Real Swingin' Daddies". The Los Angeles Times. 
  27. ^ Ratliff, Ben (April 7, 1998). "Critic's Notebook: It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing". The New York Times. 
  28. ^ Erlewine, Thomas. "Zoot Suit Riot > Review". AllMusic. Retrieved May 15, 2010. 
  29. ^ Yanow, Scott (2000). Swing!. Miller Freeman. pp. 463–464. ISBN 0-87930-600-9. 
  30. ^ "Steve Perry of the Cherry Poppin' Daddies: Songwriter Interview". Songfacts.com. October 8, 2009. 
  31. ^ "Cherry Poppin' Daddies - 'Zoot Suit Riot'". www.daddies.com. 
  32. ^ Koffman, Linda (June 20, 1998). "A Not So Cheery Cherry Daddy". www.virginmegamagazine.com. Archived from the original on May 17, 2003. Retrieved August 12, 2009. 
  33. ^ Kraner, Sabrina (September 24, 2014). "Cherry Poppin' Daddies". Radio Student FM89.3. 
  34. ^ Cipolle, Alex (April 14, 2017). "Suit Up for a Riot: The Cherry Poppin' Daddies Still Have That Genre-Breakin' Swagger". The Register-Guard. 

See also[edit]