ZOOT MONEY'S BIG ROLL BAND-Big Time Operator/Zoot's Sermon U.K. Columbia DB 7976 1966
Alongside the likes of Georgie Fame, Graham Bond and Brian Auger Zoot Money ranks as one of the legendary British 60's heroes of the Hammond. Before metamorphosing into Dantalian's Chariot (see October 1, 2009 entry) Zoot Money and his Big Roll Band (featuring a young talented guitarist named Andy Somers who'd later alter the spelling of his name and become one third of The Police) made 8 singles in the r&b/soul-jazz vein. This one is my favorite of them all. The Big Roll Band were a "musician's band", everyone loved them because they were red hot live and Zoot was a well know full time "ligger and looner" who was quite well known around London's nightclub scene and also as Andy Summer's book will attest reigning king of some massive house parties. He was name checked in Georgie Fame's live version of "Keep Your Big Mouth Shut" (on the "Two Sides Of Fame" LP) and Brian Auger went one better paying tribute on "George Bruno Money" on the "Definately What" LP. Despite being a popular live attraction they were not a huge commercial success and sadly a great deal of their studio output consisted of covers of mostly American records. "Big Time Operator" was written by the songwriting team of Tony Colton(a British r&b/freakbeat legend in his own right on the strength of several brilliant singles) and Ray Smith. They were also responsible for the brilliant "I Could Feel The Whole World Turn Round" by The Rod Stewart fronted Shotgun Express (see February 11, 2009 entry) among others.
"Big Time Operator" is a gas. From it's strong horn section intro through to Zoot's soulful vocals it's a non stop party. The horn parts really drive it through and are in my estimation the closest a British record ever came to matching the "Memphis Horn Sound" and the catchy/cocky lyrics are perfect for Zoot's typically cheeky delivery. Strangely the song seems to be almost devoid of Zoot's beloved Hammond!! The flip clears that up with plenty of Hammond, not nearly as jazzy as "Zoot's Suite" (flip of his debut 45 "Uncle Willie" Decca F 11954 1964) or as punchy and powerful as "The Mound Moves" (flipside of his next 45 "Star Of the Show" Columbia DB 8090 featuring the best Steve Cropper style lick I've ever heard outside Memphis, more on that one soon) it's still decent.
Both sides can be found on numerous Zoot Money CD's, notably Repertoire's "A's & B's Scrapbook" CD compilation.
Hear "Big Time Operator":