The "Amen break" is one of the most frequently used sampled drum loops in jungle and drum and bass music. It consists of 16 beats of the drum break lifted from the song "Amen, Brother" as performed by the 1960s funk/soul outfit The Winstons. The song is an uptempo instrumental rendition of an older gospel music classic. The Winstons' version was released as a B-side of the 45 rpm 7" vinyl single "Color Him Father" in 1969 on Metromedia. The Amen break can be found in many different forms: looped straight as in old-skool drum and bass, or entirely dismembered and rearranged as in some tunes by artists like Squarepusher and Aphex Twin; it is used in literally thousands of drum and bass songs and (notably) many hip hop tunes, such as NWA's "Straight Outta Compton". The Amen break has also been used by more well-known musical acts including Perry Farrell and Nine Inch Nails, and can even be heard in the background of car commercials and television shows such as The Amazing Race and Futurama. The Winstons were a Washington D.C.-based soul act led by Richard Spencer, signed to Curtom in early 1968 and lasted there for one single, the rousing "Need a Replacement." They had a sound that was somewhat similar to the Impressions, but were unfortunate enough to have signed with Curtom before the label had national distribution, and the single never got the play it should have. A year after leaving Curtom, they hit for the Metromedia label with a huge single called "Color Him Father," which became a Top Ten R&B and pop hit, just missing number one on the R&B list, and also earned a Grammy for Best R&B Song. It was both a great tribute number and outstanding lead vocal from Richard Spencer, along with Ray Maritano, Quincy Mattison, Phil Tolotta, Sonny Peckrol, and G.C. Coleman. Mattison and Coleman were veterans of Otis Redding's band. The Winstons eventually toured as the backup band for the Impressions, but never again made any noise on the charts. And never got paid for their break.
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Some of the tunes using the Break: 2 Live Crew - "Feel Alright Yall", 3rd Bass - "Wordz of Wisdom”, 4 Hero - "Escape That", Amon Tobin - "Nightlife", Aphex Twin - "Boy/Girl Song", Atari Teenage Riot - "Burn Berlin Burn”, Brand Nubian - "The Godz Must Be Crazy", Deee-Lite - "Come on In, the Dreams are Fine",Dillinja - "The Angels Fell", Eric B and Rakim - "Casualties of War", Funky Technicians - "Airtight", Goldie - "Chico: Death of a Rock Star”, Heavy D - "Let it Flow", Heavy D - "Flexin'", Heavy D - "MC Heavy D!", Heavyweight - "Oh Gosh”, J. Majik - "Your Sound", J. Majik - "Arabian Nights", Lemon D - "This is Los Angeles", Level Vibes - "Beauty & the Beast", Lifer's Group - "Jack U. Back (So You Wanna Be a Gangsta)", Ltj Bukem - "Music", Maestro Fresh Wes - "Bring it On", Mantronix - "King of the Beats”, Movement Ex - "KK Punani", Nice & Smooth - "Dope Not Hype", NWA - "Straight Outta Compton", Oasis - "Do Y'Know What I Mean”, Roni Size - "Brown Paper Bag", Salt-N-Pepa - "Desire", Scarface - "Born Killer", Schoolly D - "How a Black Man Feels".
RECOMMENDED: Click here if you are interested in elevating your consciousness & understanding of music as it is today, then listen to Nate Harrison's oral history of the Amen break, placed into his cultural background!