Zoot Money

TrackAlbum / Single
The Uncle WillieDecca F-11954
GoodColumbia DB 7518
It Should've Been MeIt Should've Been Me
Big Time OperatorColumbia DB 7975
Hallelujah, I Love Her SoFully Clothed & Naked CD
I Really Learnt How To CryColumbia DB 8172 B-side
Madman Running Through The FieldsChariot Rising
Recapture The ThrillChariot Rising / Transition
DeadlineTransition
Born To Live The BluesFull Circle

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Contributor: Peter Viney

Zoot Money was my first regular exposure to real rock. I’d been going to church youth club dances where The Shadows songbook got painstakingly picked out for a couple of years, but the summer of 1963 was Bournemouth Pavilion Ballroom where Zoot Money & The Sands Combo were resident. We’d dance through Tony Blackburn’s support set, which was backed by ageing members of the house dance band, and Tony was good, singing and playing guitar. His covers like Joey Dee’s What Kind Of Love Is This were unusual and well-chosen, and his version of Devil In Disguise was so popular he always had to do it twice. He wore a gold sequinned jacket in one set and a turquoise sequinned jacket in the other. For this sartorial sin, he had the piss taken out of him in Zoot’s set.

But The Sands Combo were the main attraction. This is before the first Rolling Stones record. Before The Animals were known. Before the R&B boom. They were mainly a six piece: Zoot Money on Hammond organ, plus guitar, bass, drums, piano and sax … exactly the same twin-keyboard line up that Levon & The Hawks had when they left Ronnie Hawkins to set out on the path to Bob Dylan, and becoming The Band (sax player Jerry Penfound later left). The Sands Combo that summer also added Dave Anthony as alternate vocalist. Dave Anthony later founded mod-favourites Dave Anthony’s Moods. To me the star song every night was Dee Clark’s Raindrops, and however often I listen to versions, including the original, none match up to my memory of Dave Anthony with The Sands Combo. Zoot Money sang the Ray Charles songs: Sticks & Stones, The Night Time Is The Right Time, Hallelujah I Love Her So, Hit The Road Jack, What’d I Say. What’d I Say was his showpiece. Nowadays he does a rehearsed stop between Part 1 and Part 2 as it was on the 45. He didn’t back then. Dave Anthony did the Chuck Berry with Talkin’ ‘Bout You eclipsing attempts by The Animals and The Redcaps a year later. I’ve spent many hours listening to the surviving tapes of Levon & The Hawks live from that era, and in my memory, The Sands Combo were better. That’s the way memory goes. I don’t think any band since has impressed me more. As much, of course, but more?

All the lads crowded to the front to stand and watch during the Sands Combo set, quite unusual at a “dance” in a 1963 ballroom, though the norm a few years later. I eventually worked out that this was a good time to ask girls to dance as all the other blokes were watching the band. Going home was mildly scary – the marble floors leading out of the ballroom, past the theatre, were invariably glistening with globules of blood where someone had been in a fight, and probably “glassed”. Zoot Money was already famous for jokey intros and taking the piss out of audience members. South Coast legend (I think it’s untrue) has his Hammond being thrown off a pier by angry rockers, with the threat that he would be tied to it the next time. I have heard this legend reported to have taken place at Bournemouth, Southampton and Southsea piers, so I discount it even though the story persisted for years.

Zoot left Bournemouth for the big city to play with Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated. He left that band, and invited guitarist Andy Somers (aka Summers, later to join The Police) and drummer Colin Allen to come up from Bournemouth and join him. They formed Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band, which is where the recordings story begins. Paul Williams on bass guitar, Nick Newell and Clive Burrows on saxes. Geoff Condon later joined on trumpet.

Zoot was central to the mid-60s scene, and only chance and luck have it that the other members of the organist triumvirate, Georgie Fame and Alan Price, are better known. The Bournemouth origin is mentioned sniffily as a marvel in CD sleeve notes, by people like Alexis Korner who probably never visited. In the summer, it was a major seaside venue, the population nearly doubled and it was always full of young tourists and language students. When The Big Roll Band were revisiting Bournemouth, they might have seen and been seen by local musicians such as Al Stewart, Robert Fripp, Greg Lake, Gordon Haskell, John Wetton, Lee Kerslake. Or they could have seen bands I saw in Bournemouth around then: The Who, The Nashville Teens, Steampacket, Manfred Mann, Rod Stewart & The Soul Agents.

The Big Roll Band still had two vocalists, with bass player Paul Williams sharing vocals with Zoot. They had a spate of CD reissues in the early 2000s, which I eagerly bought. I remember the day one much-anticipated volume came out. MVC Records was directly facing Bournemouth Pavilion. They had copies inside, and I suggested that in this location, they might like to place them in the window.

The Uncle Willie was the first single, on Decca in 1964. It’s that basic Can I Get A Witness 12-bar riff. It’s generic and an unoriginal dance instruction song, and The Daylighters original is called Oh Mom (Teach Me How To Uncle Willie). I loved it. I was in a garage band with an organist who insisted on playing it non-stop and thought Zoot Money the ultimate. On the Zoot Money version there’s a definitive B3 solo, and tremendous sax.

On CD The As & Bs Scrapbook rounds up all the 45s from The Big Roll Band. The second single was Gin House (as Paul Williams and The Big Roll Band). The third, Good, was written by Bob Crewe, the next, Please Stay, is the Burt Bacharach song. Listen through the singles … Something Is Worrying Me, The Many Faces of Love, Let’s Run For Cover … they sound like hit after hit. They weren’t. I could have taken any one of these singles. The B-sides are often rock standard covers like Bring it On Home To Me, Rocking Chair, Stubborn Kind of Fellow, Jump Back. A happy day with the album helped me choose, and it’ll be Good. It’s obscure for a Bob Crewe song, and I can’t find where else it was recorded. Something Is Worrying Me was runner-up, and it showcases Andy Somers choppy rhythm playing in his much later Police style.

It Should’ve Been Me sums up Zoot’s career in its title. It really should have been him. This was the point when he should have done as well as Messrs Fame and Price. Listening through the 60s albums, studio and live, this one could be replaced by half a dozen other Ray Charles covers he liked, but this one was the title track of the studio album, and it’s one he still does in the 2010s. The original was Ray Charles’ first chart hit on Atlantic Records. Like Big Time Operator, it’s a semi-comic complaint: It should’ve been me with those real fine chicks! He was doing it back in 1963 too.

The CD reissue, It Should’ve Been Me is a good introduction, as it has the album followed by singles and B-sides. Stand out tracks are I’ll Go Crazy, always a live favourite, My Wife Can’t Cook and Jump Back. The Rufus Thomas song (also covered by Spencer Davis Group) was in the repertoire of so many South Coast bands that I always assumed Jump Back was one of the best-known R&B classics. I later realized that everyone on the South Coast did it because Zoot did it. Along Came John and My Wife Can’t Cook show the penchant for semi-novelty lyrics. He does Along Came John and The Cat as Hammond-playing demonstrations.

Big Time Operator was the hit, UK #25 in July 1966. It was written by Tony Colton and Ray Smith, both later of Head, Hands & Feet. Apparently, the Big Roll Band, though credited, were replaced by a much larger studio session ensemble. It sounds like it. The song has that semi-comic lyric which leads on stylistically from It Should’ve Been Me, and goes into semi-narrative rap too. The song is based on ever more outrageously forced rhymes:

I started off a newsboy on a paper
For a time I worked an elevator
But all the time I knew that later
I would be a higher rater
Finally, a big time operator

Until I started this article, I never knew the song was taken up by ex-Radio Caroline DJ Keith Hampshire (who would have spun it on his radio shows) and became a major Canadian hit in 1973. Zoot followed it with The Star Of The Show, another Colton/Smith number, but it was too obviously similar to Big Time Operator plus a la-la chorus.

The Big Roll Band were recorded live at Klooks Kleek in London for Zoot!, and the atmosphere tingles through, but the sound quality lets it down as a choice of versions. Some more 1965-1966 Klooks Kleek material surfaced on the CD Were You There? and on the CD Fully Clothed & Naked which mixes Big Roll Band live with some 1972 solo tracks (with Zoot pictured on acoustic guitar). I’ve chosen the live Hallelujah, I Love Her So, done as an instrumental. It stands in to represent the organ instrumental style, and it might have been Zoot’s Suit (second choice), Zoot’s Sermon, or The Cat or The Rock instead, but I particularly liked the instrumental take on a song he used to sing earlier, and did later. Robert Parker’s Barefootin’ is on the same collection in a great live rendition. It’s another song he still performs.

I Really Learnt How To Cry was the B-side of Nick Knack, in itself a single that could have made it … the novelty aspect comes in again. I Really Learnt How To Cry is the transitional song between the R&B/Soul and the psych aspects of Zoot’s 60s career. Andy Somers’ acoustic guitar sounds like The Kinks, and Zoot makes his Hammond sound garage band shrill and Farfisa-cheap to match. But then the horn section accentuates in a way no garage band could.

The Big Roll Band was dissolved in July 1967, dissolved in a bath of acid in fact, to be replaced by Dantalion’s Chariot. This as Zoot, Andy Somers and Colin Allen, with Pat Donaldson on bass and vocals. That was the band, but they were “aided and abetted by” Nick Newall on saxes and flute and Geoff Condon on trumpet from The Big Roll Band, with Ray Smith and Tony Colton adding backing vocals on the album. The light show was credited as part of the band, and later borrowed by Pink Floyd. Dantalion’s Chariot issued the single Madman Running Through The Fields, a classic piece of 1967 psychedelia, written by Zoot Money and Andy Somers. The accompanying album, Chariot Rising, didn’t come out till 1995. Just take the sleeve note:

And God (or someone like him) created George Bruno, and George Bruno created Zoot Money, and Zoot Money created The Big Roll Band, and Sandoz and Owsley created mighty fine acid. The result of all these geniuses was Dantalion’s Chariot, Challengers of the Unknown and Hallucinogenic Warriors Extraordinaire.

They brought the blobby globules light show back to the Bournemouth Pavilion ballroom, and projected it across themselves, all dressed in white. “What the fuck is this…” muttered the old fans, and certainly not in a positive or kind way. In retrospect Madman Running Through The Fields is a brilliant example of the era and a must to include. It’s so psychedelic that the average Deadhead would say, ‘What are these guys on? Where can I get some?’ Luck again. Pink Floyd made it big. Dantalion’s Chariot didn’t. Those around at the time, like Middle Earth DJ Jeff Dexter reckoned Dantalion’s Chariot were “more together and more professional” at that point than Pink Floyd or Soft Machine.

The Chariot Rising album, as it eventually surfaced, also included Soma and Recapture the Thrill which are also on Transition. Some of it is ludicrous in retrospect: try World War Three. Fourpenny Bus Ride is part of that 1967 mood of whimsy, but Sun Came Bursting Through My Clouds is gently fabulous, and very nearly made the Toppermost. It was written by Smith & Colton and was the B-side of Madman Running Through The Fields. The album is not quite complete, as a major track they had recorded for the original album, Gemini, has been lost. Zoot Money and Andy Somers had started work on the album in 1966, and spent three months working on it then it didn’t get released until 1968, in a greatly revised form as Transition.

Transition was on CBS’s Direction label, and though it had survivors from the Dantalion’s Chariot venture in part, it was credited to Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band. It starts with Let The Music Make You Happy. Soma (written by Andy Somers) is an outstanding Indian-flavoured instrumental, with Andy Somers on sitar and Zoot producing the bass line. You’d put it straight in an Andy Somers’ Toppermost. Try River’s Invitation to hear Zoot’s Hammond playing. Recapture The Thrill is excellent, on two albums and another Smith/Colton composition, but one that could sit on Transition even if designed for Chariot Rising. Watcha Gonna Do About It is as wonderful as The Small Faces version, though very different. It wins on the relaxed vocal, quietly stabbing trumpet part and bass guitar, but as the other version is so well known, I’ll skip it. Deadline (Percy Mayfield) is the classic Zoot mid-60s all-out style with loads of horns and a girl chorus. It’s a varied album with horn parts of the highest quality throughout. In reality it’s a mix-up of Dantalion’s Chariot and The Big Roll Band, based around the Money/Somers writing team.

After Dantalion’s Chariot, Zoot went on to join Eric Burdon in Eric Burdon & The New Animals, while Andy Somers toured the USA with Soft Machine before joining Zoot in the New Animals. They recorded a new version of Madman Running Through The Fields on Love Is.

Zoot was back in England in 1970 for No One But You on Polydor, written by Phillip Goodhand-Tait. A tad too poppy and influenced by the success of Alan Price with the piano part.

Over the years Zoot played with Jimi Hendrix, Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane in the Majik Mijits, Grimms, Centipede, Geno Washington, Mick Taylor, Kevin Ayers, Dave Kelly, Maggie Bell & The BBQ. Andy Somers became Andy Summers (fed up of people mispronouncing his name) and became a megastar with The Police.

I’ve never managed to find Mr Money from 1980, though I have heard him do Your Feets Too Big live. Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive is on there too.

Full Circle was released in 2007, featuring recordings from 2003 to 2004. I’ve seen this experienced and tight band. It includes Ronnie Johnson on guitar (Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker), Paul McCallum on bass guitar (at Portchester School in Bournemouth with Zoot and an ex-Womble), Gary Foot on tenor sax (Tom Jones, Jools Holland) and Steve Laffy on drums (William Bell, Chris Jagger). Zoot Money looks way younger than his years and sounds much the same as ever too. He reprises some of his classics like It Should’ve Been Me and a stirring medley of Barefootin’/Walkin’ The Dog. The keyboard sounds are extraordinary and are XB2 and a Korg M1, but he does coax Hammond sounds out of them as well as a sound halfway between piano and organ that he particularly likes … see Born To Live The Blues which I picked for the instrumental and vocal prowess.

Zoot Money Family Tree (The 60s)

Zoot Money biography (iTunes)

Peter Viney’s review of Zoot Money, 2005 (with some repeated material) is here.

TopperPost #355

1 Comment

  1. Andrew Shields
    Sep 23, 2014

    Peter, thanks for this fine list. I know Zoot primarily through his work with Kevin Coyne (there is an excellent dvd available of a concert they gave together in Cologne in 1979), but this has encouraged me to check out his own work..

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