This is one of the most exciting, swinging, and purely fun CDs I'd heard in a long time. The Cherry Poppin' Daddies take the rhythmic, hard-driving, dance hall swing style of the thirties and forties and dress it in nineties threads, capitalizing on the current renewed interest in ballroom dancing. This CD, Zoot Suit Riots: The Swingin' Hits of the Cherry Poppin' Daddies,
is actually a compilation of songs from three locally-released CDs, plus four new tunes. The program is all original music, but quotes from swing-era hits such as "Sing Sing Sing" and "Take the A Train" are frequently thrown in to bridge the gap from yesterday to today.
The horn parts, meaty and athletic, are mixed to the fore and are a significant part of each song. They are guaranteed to thrill and delight any horn player or Big-Band enthusiast. The drummer keeps things consistently danceable and energetic. The main thing about the group that places it firmly in the nineties, rather than being a totally retro outfit, is the lyrics. As the group's name might imply, there's a wicked, street-wise seediness to almost every song. Sex, booze, and wild women are the subject matter of almost every song, usually communicated with clever innuendo and only occasionally with four-letter words. For example, here's the opening stanza from "Brown Derby Jump:"
She was a woman of mystery
And what she wanted I could not see
A three-year trip on the dragon
Until the clinic had to get me clean
We were a party and always drunk
Before I knew it the wreckage sunk
Shake, trip, shimmy and we'd do the bump
Everybody swingin' to the Brown Derby Jump
No subject is taboo – they do a rollicking swing number to lyrics about a drunk father who beats his children.
To a great extent, these lyrics contribute to the wild, care-free escapism inherent in a night out dancing on the town. They frequently evoke the oddly inticing imagery of smoky bars and shady characters. As long as you're not too put out by the content, you'll find a lot to love about the Cherry Poppin' Daddies.