First issued as a single in October , "Zoot Suit Riot" slowly gained radio momentum with the commercial growth of the lates swing revival before ultimately hitting its peak in the summer of , reaching 41 on Billboard ' s Hot and 15 on the Modern Rock chart , while a surrealist music video became one of MTV 's most played of the year, earning the Daddies a nomination for "Best New Artist in a Video" at the MTV Video Music Awards. As of [update] , "Zoot Suit Riot" remains the only single of the Daddies' career to place on the Billboard charts.
By the end of , the formerly underground swing revival began drawing mainstream recognition following the success of bands including the Squirrel Nut Zippers and the hit film Swingers. As a result, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, who were then at that time largely associated with the West Coast ska punk scene, began attracting a separate and sizable following for the prominent swing influences in their music.
As means of having something new to sell on their next tour while the band was writing their next studio album, the Daddies quickly put together a compilation album of only the swing tracks from their first three albums, recording four new songs—including "Zoot Suit Riot"—to round out a full-length record. Lyrically, the song's narrative is based around the Los Angeles Zoot Suit Riots of the s, a series of racially-motivated assaults between American servicemen and Mexican-American youths.
Although the Daddies have explored issues of race, violence and politics in their music, "Zoot Suit Riot" expresses no overt political or social commentary: in a interview, songwriter Steve Perry elaborated on its significance as an intended "anthem" for the swing scene, saying "I guess it seemed like a Pachuco rallying cry that could double as a dance anthem for those of us interested in swing music and culture at a time when nobody else was.
It was an expression of a proud marginalism. That's not that deep, but there you go. Due to the hurried production of the album, the vocal track for the song was recorded in one take. At the end of the recording, Perry is heard saying "I think I'm about ready to sing it", which he was signifying to the engineer.
Unbeknownst to us, it became a big hit record", noting elsewhere that he "probably would of given it 2 or 3 more rips, probably slightly slower, if we had known the future back in ". Following steady independent sales of the album which reportedly reached as many as 4, copies a week, the Daddies eventually signed a distribution deal with major label subsidiary Mojo Records and Zoot Suit Riot was re-issued and nationally distributed in July Bones" and "Brown Derby Jump", plus the ska b-side "Hi and Lo" was distributed to radio stations for possible airplay; "Zoot Suit Riot" was ultimately excluded from the tape as the band felt the song had no commercial potential.
As swing music began gaining mainstream commercial momentum by late , Mojo chose to issue "Zoot Suit Riot" as a single and distribute it among modern rock radio stations. The Daddies, who were in preparation over recording a new studio album, ardently protested this move under the belief that a swing song would never receive airplay on mainstream radio and were concerned over losing money from its marketing. Two separate music videos were filmed for "Zoot Suit Riot". The video depicts the band and a zoot suited Steve Perry performing the song to a group of swing dancers and punk rockers in a smoky lounge, intercut with various shots of surrealist and occult imagery.
Legendary disc jockey Al "Jazzbo" Collins has a brief cameo as one of the club's patrons, singing along to a verse from the song. Released in October , the original video received minimal exposure, having aired only once on MTV as part of 12 Angry Viewers , a program in which twelve music fans critique a series of music videos, where it received almost unanimous disapproval. In early , once "Zoot Suit Riot" had charted and the Daddies were gaining commercial notoriety, Mojo requested that a newer video be filmed. Directed by acclaimed pornographic film director Gregory Dark and edited by Bob Murawski ,  the second video follows the same premise as the original, with the Daddies playing to a crowd of swing dancers and punk rockers, though the surrealist imagery is much more prominent.
Throughout the video, there are shots of such visuals as evil clowns , a goat head being used as part of a ritual sacrifice , vampires , skulls and foot fetishism. Dark's video became the version most associated with the song, becoming one of MTV's most requested videos of the year. Perry stated in an interview that he felt "honored" to have been parodied, though didn't quite understand "why Weird Al is such an icon". In , bandleader and trumpeter Ray Anthony , who had been active during the original swing era and a one-time member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, recorded a cover of "Zoot Suit Riot" on his album Swing Club , featuring Patrick Tuzzolino on vocals.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. October October 8, Sun-Times Media Group. Archived from the original on October 6, The Oregonian. Archived from the original on June 22, Retrieved August 14, Lo-Fi Magazine. The Daily of the University of Washington. Music Video Database. June 16, June 9, Retrieved March 22, Cherry Poppin' Daddies.
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