Tuesday, September 27, 2005
The Winstons: Amen, Brother (Metromedia MMS-117)
Right now, we focus on a killer soul instrumental buried on the back of a big Top 10 hit. The hit was "Color Him Father," which rode to #7 on Billboard's Hot 100 (#2 on the R&B charts) in the summer of 1969 and won the group a Grammy for Best R & B Song.
A little bit about The Winstons: According to "The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders" by Wayne Jancik, The band came about in Washington D.C. in the late 1960s composed of people who had been Motown sessioneers and had played with Arthur Conley and Otis Redding among others. The Impressions discovered them, took them on the road as their back-up band and eventually gave them a solo spot on the tour. "Color Him Father," an ode to the perfect dad, was their first record. Metromedia released it where it hit with both pop and soul listeners. Sadly, the group faded from view shortly after leaving behind only two other known singles and a lone album named after their hit.
Well, as good as that hit was and is, it's "Amen, Brother," which we turn our attention to now. Basically, it's an instrumental soul arrangement of the old hymn standard "Amen" (you know, "Amen...amen...amen, amen, amen"). It begins with a drum-roll before shifting into an onslaught of funky guitar, bass and rhythm. Then, the organ and the horns come in and presto! Dance floor nirvana! I imagine the Northern Soul crowd must've picked up on this one by now, but I don't need their help in enjoying this. My foot's tappin' right out of the gate!
And it keeps on tappin' right until the band just stops.
Finding a gem like this buried on the B-side of a big hit is always a pleasure. I can think of a few instances where that's happened. (The Lemon Pipers' "No Help From Me" (see entry), Dion's "Daddy Rollin' (In Your Arms)" on the back of "Abraham, Martin and John," Mercy's "Fire Ball" on the flip of the godawful "Love (Can Make You Happy)" and the list no doubt goes on). Count "Amen, Brother" as another of the great B-sides.