The Amen Break

anth_ony

Member
I just came across an interesting video about the Amen Break and its history. For those who don't know the Amen Break: it's a six second clip from the song Amen, Brother by The Winstons, and played by Gregory Coleman. This clip is known as one of, if not the most sampled clips in music history. It is also credited as the basis of entire sub-cultures, such as the Jungle, D'n'B, and Hip-Hop movements. This video talks about it more:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SaFTm2bcac


~
 

foursticks

Pioneer Member
Definately one of the most important samples in the history of electronic/sample music. Strikes me as quite an amazing feat - being that a few seconds of a song has been enough to generate thousands of songs.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
I'm having a little debate with a friend about this, right now. He's a very enthusiastic hip hop fan and his assertion is; "Were it not for sampling, no one would know who The Winstons were today, and this beat would have been forgotten."

Perhaps in the world of hip hop, d 'n b, etc. - but it seems obvious that the drummers of James Brown...and all of funk from that point forward, was heavily influenced by the Amen Beat.

Has this beat not also been present in funk, soul, R&B, rock, and several other genres, ever since?

EDIT:


After a little research, I had my dates wrong. The most notable of the James Brown grooves, "The Funky Drummer", performed by Clyde Stubblefield, was released right around the same time, in 1969. Were Coleman and Stubblefield familiar with each other? Was one influenced by the other, at all?
 
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DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I'm having a little debate with a friend about this, right now. He's a very enthusiastic hip hop fan and his assertion is; "Were it not for sampling, no one would know who The Winstons were today, and this beat would have been forgotten."

Perhaps in the world of hip hop, d 'n b, etc. - but it seems obvious that the drummers of James Brown...and all of funk from that point forward, was heavily influenced by the Amen Beat.

Has this beat not also been present in funk, soul, R&B, rock, and several other genres, ever since?
I would say you are BOTH right. The Winstons only had one hit, and "Amen" wasn't it. It was the b-side. So, I agree, few would remember the band The Winstons. Although you could say, no one really remembers The Winstons anyway, other than the name of the band the beat was taken from.

But overall, you are right the beat would still exist. Variations of that beat are on dozens, if not 100's of records. The basis beat is found in Carmine Appice Realistic Rock book, studied by thousands of drummers.

And given so many people have broken down the beat to individual notes and then put it the notes back together in different order, I'd say it's not even the beat itself, as much as the sounds of the drums that has made it so popular.

However, even though everyone would still be aware of the beat from other records, it wouldn't be associated with the name The Winstons, and thus your friend has a point no one (or at least very few) would know who they were.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
I would say you are BOTH right. The Winstons only had one hit, and "Amen" wasn't it. It was the b-side. So, I agree, few would remember the band The Winstons. Although you could say, no one really remembers The Winstons anyway, other than the name of the band the beat was taken from.

But overall, you are right the beat would still exist. Variations of that beat are on dozens, if not 100's of records. The basis beat is found in Carmine Appice Realistic Rock book, studied by thousands of drummers.

And given so many people have broken down the beat to individual notes and then put it the notes back together in different order, I'd say it's not even the beat itself, as much as the sounds of the drums that has made it so popular.

However, even though everyone would still be aware of the beat from other records, it wouldn't be associated with the name The Winstons, and thus your friend has a point no one (or at least very few) would know who they were.
This was my point; you hear this beat (and variations of it) on several recordings from 1969 to 1986, when it became heavily sampled in hip hop music. It's not as if you wouldn't be able to trace the drumming influence back to The Winstons if it had never been sampled.

Can anyone think of the most notable recordings between '69 and '86 that demonstrate the use of this beat, or a variation thereof?
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Well, it's important because it's a break. That's obvious. You're friend doesn't seem to get that part though. It's not important what he is doing, but that he is doing it alone. :)

The ironic thing about it it is that basic groove that everyone does when they first sit down at the kit, dunk dunk da da da dunk, dunka da . . that basic idea then becomes the fodder for development.The turn around is nice in the break.

Your question is a good one because these ghosts notes are becoming popular at about this time 1969-70 and you don't hear it in white music, The Byrds or The Beatles or even Cream, and it would see that a song like The Word would work well with some ghosts notes. Even a song like Areth's Think would lend to it; but it is too early, pre-Purdie.

The funkier drummers . . . White Room is close; Baker is so into those toms, part of his revolution in style, what would you expect from TWGD. You also hear it at bit in Hendrix Voodoo Chile and Foxy Lady or Stone Free, which is the best examples I can find. Stone Free good cowbell song.

Here's a good one:
The House that Jack Built. Aretha covered this with a great groove:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQHknvtAvds
 
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DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
This was my point; you hear this beat (and variations of it) on several recordings from 1969 to 1986, when it became heavily sampled in hip hop music. It's not as if you wouldn't be able to trace the drumming influence back to The Winstons if it had never been sampled.

Can anyone think of the most notable recordings between '69 and '86 that demonstrate the use of this beat, or a variation thereof?
Well, I disagree. I don't think it would ever be traced back to the Winstons. It's just too common. It would just be "that beat" which as Ken points out, people tend to default to without even know who the Winstons are.

As you pointed out, variations are prevalent on James Brown records, and Brown was an established star before the Winstons.

As Ken mentioned, variations are played (with a different feel) on "The White Room" by Cream, which came out a year before, and on various Hendrix recordings.


Nirvana "Smells Like Teen Spirit" rammed the basic idea of the beat into millions of heads.
Madonna "Justify My Love" made a ballad version of the beat.
We go on all day with songs that have variations of it.
 
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Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Good examples. Another earlier one is Aretha's Rock Steady with Purdie, which of course is another famous break. It's probably not as used because it has the Rock Steady chorus over it. Purdie said this was a mistake that happened when Aretha dropped here music.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Is it just me or does the guy narrating the video sound very similar to those 2 jazz robots? (I forget their proper name, you know what I'm talking about right?)
 

unfunkyfooted

Silver Member
1965 The Tams - I´ve Been Hurt
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hG_y1wX2FRw&playnext=1&list=PLFA19EEBF962F4C2E&index=17

this is the fabulous Tams. kings of the Beach Music scene. Beach Music is NOT Surf Music, in fact is more akin to the British Northern Soul scene. it is big in North Carolina and South Carolina. a lot of Soul artists who have been forgotton by even R&B / Soul afficianados have found life-long careers on the Beach Music circuit. and i thank them for that.

when i first heard this drum break in 2nd grade, i lost my mind and knew i wanted to be a musician.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
This has got to be the earliest:
King Curtis - Memphis Soul Stew with Gene Chrisman on drums, 1967 who I think also played on Aretha's House That Jack Built

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukOs3am7CtE&feature=related

with Purdie

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Loy55z4GpA
Nice examples.

1965 The Tams - I´ve Been Hurt
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hG_y1wX2FRw&playnext=1&list=PLFA19EEBF962F4C2E&index=17

this is the fabulous Tams. kings of the Beach Music scene. Beach Music is NOT Surf Music, in fact is more akin to the British Northern Soul scene. it is big in North Carolina and South Carolina. a lot of Soul artists who have been forgotton by even R&B / Soul afficianados have found life-long careers on the Beach Music circuit. and i thank them for that.

when i first heard this drum break in 2nd grade, i lost my mind and knew i wanted to be a musician.
Oooh...I think we have a winner!

It even has a drum break. haha.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Yeah, the The Tam break is certainly one if not the earliest. I would wonder if it was not as popular because of its relative obscurity/regionalism or its flange on the drum sound, which I heard; that could have been my computer. If it was the former, maybe that shows just how popular The Winstons were. Someone's folks had it in their 45 collection. In any regard, it took an ambitious young deejay to flip over to the 'b' side.
 

unfunkyfooted

Silver Member
Yeah, the The Tam break is certainly one if not the earliest. I would wonder if it was not as popular because of its relative obscurity/regionalism or its flange on the drum sound, which I heard; that could have been my computer. If it was the former, maybe that shows just how popular The Winstons were. Someone's folks had it in their 45 collection. In any regard, it took an ambitious young deejay to flip over to the 'b' side.
a lot of the songs on youtube are uploaded from vinyl or cassette. the flange that you hear sounds like cassette squeal to me.

most people know the Amen Break as The James Brown Beat. it has been traced to an obscure drummer named Clayton (forgive the spelling) Fillayeu. who played it on James Brown´s Live At The Apollo (1963). there is an online article somewhere, that was like an In Search Of Clayton Fillayeu type of thing. it too (the artricle) was trying to find the source of that beat.

i think they did actual find Clayton and he said that it was just a New Orleans beat that he brought to James Brown and all of James´ subsequent drummers played it. Starks and Stubblefield included.

it was a pretty in depth article, if i remember correctly. with clickable photos and interviews with Starks and Stubblefield and others. at least that´s the way i remember it.

if you can find that article it´s a really good read.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
I think I remember reading that article some time ago.

It's Clyde on Cold Sweat. In Groove Alchemy, Stanton Moore distinguishes Jabo and Clyde by the laters playing off the back beat, something Jabo didn't do.

It makes sense to call it the JB beat because there are at least a dozen JB beats that are a variation of this beat. I really doubt in goes back to Live at the Apollo though because all those tunes are in 6/8.
 
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