Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band — “Big Time Operator”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — February 8, 2023


726) Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band — “Big Time Operator”

Zoot Money was “quite simply the biggest character on the British rhythm and blues scene since the early 1960s” (http://zootmoney.org/bio/), but this 45 was his only one to hit the money (#25 in the UK). It is a joyous R&B/jazz powerhouse, “custom-composed . . . by the team of Tony Colton and Ray Smith”. (https://www.jazzwise.com/review/zoot-moneys-big-roll-band-big-time-operator)

Let’s listen to Zoot’s website:

B]oth his parents were Italian immigrants, although his father’s family (really called Money) were originally English. . . . In 1961 Zoot formed the first incarnation of the Big Roll band . . . . Before long [it] alongside those other luminaries of the Soho blues scene of the time, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames and The Animals, had become permanent fixtures at the Flamingo Club . . . the epicentre of the Swinging Sixties. Zoot’s shows were famed far and wide for his combination of outrageous antics (including ‘shocking’ trouser activity . . . ) tight musicianship and passionate vocal delivery. . . . In the late 1960s, after scoring a hit with ‘Big Time Operator’, the Big Roll Band metamorphosed for a while into the prototype psychedelia outfit Dantalian’s Chariot. Sharing bills with the likes of Pink Floyd . . . Soft Machine and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, there were a lot of goings-on with white khaftans, lava lamps and sweet-smelling incense at the most underground of clubs . . . .


Bruce Eder adds that:

Zoot Money was one of British rock & roll’s homebound heroes — admired, respected, and sought after by his colleagues, and able to fill halls in England nightly, he never managed to sell lots of records, even in England. . . . During the mid-’50s, he discovered rhythm & blues and its younger offshoot, rock & roll, which quickly consumed his interest in music — he switched to the keyboard under the inspiration of Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Charles, and by the beginning of the ’60s was developing a distinctive technique on the Hammond organ. He’d also picked up the nickname by which he’d be known for most of his career after attending a concert by Zoot Sims. . . . He passed through the lineups of a few groups as a keyboard player . . . . [Then] classic version of the Big Roll Band . . . . took root in London, consisting of Money on vocals, piano, and organ, [and including] Andy Somers [yes, the Police’s Andy Summers] on guitar . . . . They quickly became a popular attraction on London’s burgeoning R&B and jazz scene, partly owing to Money’s impassioned interpretations of American R&B standards and his wild sense of showmanship, coupled with the band’s overall excellence . . . . They were good enough to attract the attention of England’s Decca Records . . . . [and by] the following year, they’d moved over to EMI’s Columbia Records imprint . . . . [An album was released, but] neither it nor the accompanying 45s captured the excitement or appeal that the group or its leader exhibited on-stage. . . . [By] late 1966. . . . the audience for American-style R&B and soul was already giving way to a growing listenership for psychedelic sounds, and the name “Big Roll Band” sounded like something just a little bit too far from the wafts of incense . . . . [I]n 1967, they transmuted, almost Doctor Who-style, into Dantalion’s Chariot. . . .


Here they are live:

Here is a killer version by Aussies ID with Jeff St. John:

Here are Tommy James and the Shondells:

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