"Amen, Brother" might have fallen into obscurity if not for the 1986 compilation Ultimate Breaks and Beats, part of a bootleg series for DJs. According to Wikipedia, a former Downstairs Records employee known as Breakbeat Lenny hired another remixer to slow down the drum segment, and DJs began to take notice of this distinctive pattern. Later improvements in sampling technology allowed the sample to become extremely popular in the hip hop community, so much that the original track was remastered and rereleased. This pristine version eventually replaced the slowed-down bootleg version. By the early 1990s, the Amen Break crossed over to the UK, where house music and rave culture was booming. The "Amen, Brother" sample became the basis of what is known as jungle or drum and bass, where the tempos were sped up so much that they left the original sample virtually unrecognizable.
Today, that six-second song section still permeates hip hop and house, now extended to some rock tracks.The blog Sound Statements has reprinted just an abbreviated version of the many tracks that have sampled the Amen Break. Some examples are the following:
"You Know I'm No Good" – Amy Winehouse
"Unbelievable" – EMF
"Faint" – Linkin Park
"Straight Outta Compton" – NWA
"D'you Know What I Mean" – Oasis
"Whole Lotta Love" – Perry Farrell
"I Desire" – Salt-N-Pepa
"Eyeless" – Slipknot
"Vic Acid" – Squarepusher
"Firestarter" and "Breathe" – Prodigy
Sadly, drummer Coleman passed away in 2006, and reportedly the group never received financial compensation—or proper credit—for its crucial role in modern music history. But "Amen, Brother" lives on in other bands and DJs sampling its incredibly funky breakbeat, and at last The Winstons are achieving some recognition for their contribution to today's sounds.
To learn more about the Amen Break's history, view this video, which explains the phenomenon in detail. The clip below plays the entire "Amen, Brother" single: