There must be a very good reason why the major industry sloths have so faithfully ignored the Cherry Poppin' Daddies for the past nine years. In 1989 -- when the A&R dolts were still regarding grunge as godhead -- big bands with a flare for showmanship were the last thing on anyone's mind. Was it CPD frontman Steve Perry's fault that his musical vantage looked back in time several years (or forward, as the case may be) to an aural vista where shoegazing and self-deprecation did not automatically make you an artist, tortured or otherwise? Was it Perry's fault that, during the height of the PC-crap storm, he decided to name his band "Cherry Poppin' Daddies" -- a moniker that, at the very least, inflamed the imagination, and when combined with a now-retired stage prop (a giant penis on wheels) gave rise to protests and picket lines? Was it Perry's fault that he cited both ska and big band jazz as major influences in his life, but refused to take sides when it was convenient for record labels to do so, causing the loss of more than one deal? OK, maybe it was Perry's fault. He is the band leader, after all, and his monster eight-piece has never gotten the accolades it deserves. It is also to his credit. They have put out their own records. There have been few compromises along the way. Zoot Suit Riot -- CPD's greatest hits with four brilliant new tracks -- is proof enough for any dunderhead. It should be the album that finally puts the Daddies on the lips of all future Swingers producers, but it won't -- even though both ska and swing are the evident flavors of the moment. See, you can't sell Volvos with songs about class struggle, alcohol abuse, religious futility, and unadulterated sex. Regardless of how raunchy jazz used to be in the '40s, record labels want their swing to be squeaky clean; they want to hear "Grab your favorite girl and your finest hat/ And swing, just swing, you crazy cool cat," they absolutely do not want to hear "Did your God show you the door/ Well, I'm here to eat your apple to the core" or "No pennies from heaven, no pennies in my hand/ Think you're drinkin' wine dad, it's blood of the lamb." Is it Perry's fault that his lyrics have more to offer than his girlfriend's shoe size, or that he comes off like a sickly educated, much berated barroom philosopher, rather than a preening fashion plate with thuggish delusions? I hope so. The Cherry Poppin' Daddies play Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Great American Hall at 8:30 p.m. The Blue Meanies and Mu 330 open. Tickets are $8-10; call 885-0750.
Countless loads of laundry and several months of recording later, Brain Wash host Ian Brennan is finally set to release Unscrubbed: Live From the Laundromat, a compilation of local musicians who have appeared during his surprisingly popular Monday night show at the SOMA sit-and-spin. Unscrubbed is largely acoustic and recorded entirely live, a frightening format for anyone used to hiding his musical blemishes behind a wall of feedback. Happily, most of the performers on Unscrubbed seem to thrive on the intimacy (listen for breaking glass and approving crowd murmurs throughout). In the spirit of a proper hootenanny, Brennan encourages musicians to play together and to experiment with new material, which makes for some unusual digressions from some usual suspects. (They don't get paid either, so it's all for love.) Of course, bands like the Naked Barbies and the Old Joe Clarks -- whose music naturally lends itself to a stripped-down sound -- shine brightly in the mix, but unexpected offerings from the likes of JoJo, Pomegranate, MK Ultra, Barb & the Wire, and Kevin Army (producer of Operation Ivy and Green Day) are what sets this CD apart from other local compilations. (Even spoken-word artist Justin Chin gets in the act with a deliciously funny piece titled "Buffed Fag.") Brennan himself comes off as the superstar of the wash cycle (all those nights of opening the show made for some incredibly polished and touching material). Other contributors include the Brilliantines, Joaquina, Jimmy & Tommy, Granfaloon Bus, Package, the Gun & Doll Show, the Dangs, El SOB, Eric McFadden, and 100 Watt Smile. All of the featured bands will be playing at the Paradise Lounge on Saturday, Aug. 9, starting at 9 p.m. The lineup will be determined by a spin of the wheel after each set, and the show will culminate in a huge free-for-all (all local musicians are welcome; call Brennan at 648-8314). Tickets are $8; call 621-1911.
-- Silke Tudor