Zoot Suit Riot (album)

Zoot Suit Riot: The Swingin' Hits of the Cherry Poppin' Daddies is a compilation album by the American band the Cherry Poppin' Daddies that was released on March 18, 1997 by Space Age Bachelor Pad Records. The album is a collection of songs from the band's first three ska punk-oriented albums with four bonus tracks.

Zoot Suit Riot: The Swingin' Hits of the Cherry Poppin' Daddies
Cherry Poppin' Daddies - Zoot Suit Riot.jpg
Compilation album by
ReleasedMarch 18, 1997
July 1, 1997 (Mojo re-issue)
January 13, 2017 (20th anniversary re-issue)
StudioGung Ho Studios
GenreJazz, swing, pop, rock
LabelSpace Age Bachelor Pad, Mojo
ProducerSteve Perry, Cherry Poppin' Daddies
Cherry Poppin' Daddies chronology
Kids on the Street
Zoot Suit Riot: The Swingin' Hits of the Cherry Poppin' Daddies
Soul Caddy
Singles from Zoot Suit Riot
  1. "Zoot Suit Riot"
    Released: October 1997
  2. "Brown Derby Jump"
    Released: 1998
  3. "Here Comes the Snake"
    Released: 1998

After an independent release in early 1997, Zoot Suit Riot was reissued by Mojo Records. By early 1998, regular radio airplay of the album's title track, "Zoot Suit Riot" helped propel Zoot Suit Riot to the top of Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart, eventually becoming the first "new swing" album to enter the Billboard Top 40 and contributing to the swing revival of the late 1990s. Zoot Suit Riot reached number 17 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling over two million copies in the United States[citation needed] and achieving gold record sales in several other countries.[citation needed]


By 1997, having spent nearly a decade as prolific performers within the Northwest punk and ska underground, 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 lucrative 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] At this time, largely following the success of the 1996 independent comedy film Swingers, which prominently showcased the Los Angeles swing revival movement, public attention started turning towards swing music, which had been slowly emerging within the West Coast alternative underground pioneered by bands such as Royal Crown Revue and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.[2]

Though the Daddies had only been a passive presence within the swing scene compared to their more visible notoriety in the ska scene, the band eventually began drawing a sizable and receptive audience for their swing songs as they continued to tour alongside ska bands. Recognizing the unexpected demand for their swing music, which until then had only been an incidental component of their repertoire behind punk, funk and ska, the Daddies realized they lacked an album which fully represented their swing and jazz influences, 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:

We didn't want to be a "swing band". What happened was that our manager said, "Everybody comes up and they ask me which CD has the most swing on it," - that's what we mostly played live - "and I don't know what the fuck to tell them because two of the CDs have the same amount and the other has less. So it's between these, and I don't know what to do. I swear to God, if you put all of those swing songs on one record, people would just shit. They would really want that, because how many people have all three Cherry Poppin' Daddies records?" "Well, none." "Well, yeah. There you go." And I went, "I don't think that a band from Eugene with three records could put a greatest hits record out." "Then record some new songs." We had talked about it for a while, and we decided to do it. And it was cheap. So we did it.[3]


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".[4] 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").[5]

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.[6] Despite steady regional sales, obtaining wider distribution and marketing outside of the Northwest proved difficult through the band's entirely DIY label.[7] 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.[3][8] 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.[7] 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.[3][9] 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.[10]

Mainstream breakthroughEdit

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.[10][11] 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.[12] On January 28, 2000, Zoot Suit Riot was awarded double platinum status after selling over two million copies.[13]

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.[11][14] 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.[15]

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.[16] 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 ultimately toured behind Zoot Suit Riot for over a year, playing nearly 300 shows in 1998 alone.[17] 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".[18][19]

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.[20] To date,[when?] Zoot Suit Riot remains the only charting release of the Daddies' career.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic     [21]
Robert Christgau [22]

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.[23] 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".[24]

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".[25] The 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."[26]

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.[27]

20th anniversary editionEdit

In mid-2014, 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 the album 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."[5][28][4]

Zoot Suit Riot: The 20th Anniversary Edition was released exclusively by the band on CD and vinyl on January 13, 2017, with five bonus live tracks recorded during the Zoot Suit Riot tour in 1998.[29]

Track listingEdit

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

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
Japanese release
20th Anniversary Edition
15."No Mercy for Swine (Live '98)" 
16."Here Comes the Snake (Live '98)" 
17."Brown Derby Jump (Live '98)" 
18."Zoot Suit Riot (Live '98)" 
19."Whiskey Jack (Live '98)" 
20."Zoot Suit Riot (Spanish version)" 
  • 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 availabilityEdit

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.


  • Steve Perry – vocals, guitar
  • Dana Heitman – trumpet, trombone
  • Ian Early – alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
  • Sean Flannery – tenor saxophone
  • Jason Moss – guitar
  • Darren Cassidy – bass guitar
  • Tim Donahue – drums

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

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

See alsoEdit