Monday, August 7, 2017

The Amen Break Featuring Cards from Angus

Over the course of about three weeks, I got several packages from my Canadian friend Angus of Dawg Day Cards. Angus first introduced himself to me about two years ago and immediately waded in on my card war with the legendary Jaybarkerfan. This summer, it seems that Angus found himself on a driving tour of the United States with stops in Ohio, Arizona, and parts in between. In the process, he stopped at card stores and bought things -- hopefully plenty for himself to get his blog reignited -- and a few things for other collectors.

I thought about this post as I was driving home today -- that I needed to get off my lazy butt and post some samples of the cards that Angus sent my way. I had no idea, however, what I was going to say about them or whether I would have music to go along with the cards.

Then, NPR's All Things Considered had a fascinating five-minute story about one of the most famous -- and most frequently sampled -- drum breaks in the history of rock: the "Amen Break." The break was played by the late Gregory Sylvester Coleman of a DC funk band called The Winstons, and it was in a B-side called "Amen, Brother." The song itself is a simple enough piece -- only 2-1/2 minutes of funky jazzy sounding beats. The break is located at about 1:25 in the song:

If you are a music fan, you'll recognize that break soon after you hear it. According to NPR, it's been sampled more than 2000 times. According to the exhaustive "Who Sampled" website, that total is actually in excess of 2500 (2661 and counting). 

That ought to give me enough options for songs to select to accompany the cards from Angus. So, let's get to it.

N.W.A., "Straight Outta Compton"

Needless to say, that song is NSFW. It's the most popular song according to "Who Sampled" to have sampled the Amen Break. It is pretty obvious in the song too -- literally the whole drumline on this song is the Amen Break on loop. And this is almost always the way that the break is used -- as the foundation for the entire song.


Speaking of foundations, the foundation of my baseball card collecting truly came from chasing police card sets. I know I have said it on many occasions, but these police cards created my love for oddballs and comprise a large portion of each player collection I have for players before about the year 1996. The police sets continued after 1996, but they just are not as easily available. 

As an aside, the Jerry Augustine above was the first new addition to his player collection since June of 2016 -- when I added another police card to my PC for him. 

Snow, "Informer"

Canadian rapper Snow used the Amen Break as the base for his famous song "Informer." Once again, as with N.W.A., the drum break -- here, slowed down a bit -- is basically the entire base for the song. I had to use Snow, after all, since he is Canadian -- having grown up in the North York district of Toronto.  

I have always liked this song for its fast, mostly incomprehensible lyrics and the reggae sound incorporated in it. That sound comes honestly -- Snow's neighborhood in Toronto was a heavily Jamaican area, and he is well respected in Jamaican-Canadian music circles for his music. It's also incredibly catchy -- thanks in part to the Amen Break.


I think this is perhaps my second Topps Pristine card and the first one that I have that is encapsulated by itself. I'm very tempted to take Richie out of the hermetically sealed package for ease of storage more than anything. Still, it's tough to disturb the Topps hologram seal on it. My little kid voice in my head keeps screaming, "You'll ruin it if you take it out of that case! Don't do it!"

I listen to that kid, usually. I mean, I still collect cards thanks to that kid, so why wouldn't I?

Yaz(oo), "Situation (The Aggressive Attitude Mix)"

This one takes a little bit more listening. Slowly but surely, however, that drum fill becomes clearer as the underneath drumline again. I've always been a big fan of Yaz (Yazoo in the UK). As I have mentioned before, Vince Clarke of Yazoo came out of Depeche Mode and formed Yazoo with Alison Moyet. After Yazoo, he teamed up with Eric Radcliffe as a band called "The Assembly." Later in his career, he joined up with Andy Bell to form Erasure. 

If you want to hear something truly cool, do a YouTube search for "Foreigner vs. Yazoo Urgent Situation". It is what it says it is -- a mashup of "Situation" and "Urgent" and it is fantastic.

I'm not sure that Warren Spahn would have ever heard of Yazoo, though he certainly heard of Yaz from the Red Sox. I have my doubts that Spahnie would have even cared about Foreigner either.

Before the advent of at-bat music and music for guys coming in from the bullpen and, well, the wall-to-wall music that now assaults our senses at every sporting event because God forbid fans be allowed to cheer organically for their team, how did fans know what music that baseball players liked? I find myself assuming that Spahn would have been a fan of Frank Sinatra or Guy Lombardo or something similarly big-band and tuxedo-clad. But does anyone know?

And what makes me contemplate this stuff, anyway?

Jay-Z featuring Mary J. Blige, "Can't Knock the Hustle (Desired State Remix)"

This song is a remix of Jay-Z's third single from his debut album, Reasonable Doubt. Mary J. Blige appeared on the track as a favor to Damon Dash. But, by the time that Jay-Z's album was about to drop, Blige had already blown up and her label did not want her associated with some unknown punk from New Jersey. So, Combat Jack a/k/a Reggie Ossé (a lawyer for Def Jam/Island) tells the story that he basically had to beg for her to remain in the song. The whole story is intriguing to me, and you can read it on the song's Wikipedia page because why should I type the whole thing again!

Hostess cards rule. These were all condition upgrades to the ones I had in my collection already from my little kid days. Those days saw me as a 6-year-old learning how to cut along lines to get the cards off the box. I wasn't always successful. Actually, I was downright terrible at it and have a bunch of Hostess cards that are miscut, cut crookedly, or have weird scissor cuts from a jagged-edge fabric scissors getting used.

Pete Broberg is an interesting guy. He went to Dartmouth from Palm Beach County and is the son of a one-time Palm Beach municipal court judge. He grew up surfing off Palm Beach island. He loves sci-fi books and movies, and spent much of his time at the theater on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach watching Saturday sci-fi matinees. 

He excelled in baseball in high school, and the Oakland A's made him their first round pick -- second overall -- in 1968. He was selected one spot behind Tim Foli, two spots ahead of Thurman Munson, and 126 picks and 5 rounds ahead of future Brewers star Cecil Cooper. He didn't sign, so the Washington Senators made him the first overall pick in the 1971 June Secondary Draft out of Dartmouth.

His career was not what one would have hoped for -- 41-71, 4.56 ERA in just under 1000 innings pitched. But, Pete was a smart man and attended Nova Southeastern Law School. He made Law Review and was published in the Nova Law Journal. Even more wisely, all he does is draft and administer wills and estates and handle residential real estate closings in the law firm that still bears the name of his dad's law partner and his dad. So, maybe some day in the future, he and I will run into each other at a Florida Bar Association meeting. After all, Construction Law falls under the Real Property and Probate section of the Florida Bar.

The Theme from Futurama

Perhaps I should have put Pete Broberg's card with this song.

You can hear the Amen Break for the first time around the 12-second mark of the song, and it appears on and off throughout the song. 

I've watched a few episodes of Futurama. I never started watching it regularly, probably because I never watch much of anything all that regularly unless my wife wants to watch something with me. I really have never been a big TV watcher -- I was always wanting to be outside or reading or listening to music or organizing my baseball cards. I also like silence a lot too.

To close things out, Angus sent me these Leaf Certified autographs from 1996. I believe that this is my first David Nilsson autograph, so that's really cool.

Mike Potts jumped out at me as being interesting in this group. Potts was born in Langdale/Valley, Alabama -- just across the Chattahoochee River from Georgia and south of I-85. He went to high school in Lithonia, Georgia -- a town just outside the I-285 "Perimeter" and just north of I-20 in Eastern DeKalb County. The Indians drafted him from Lithonia High School in 1989, but he did not sign. The Braves then drafted him in 1990 from Gordon College in Barnesville, Georgia and signed him. The Brewers signed him off waivers before the 1996 season, and Potts pitched in 24 games for the Brewers that year.

Potts was done with baseball after the 1996 season. He decided at that time to follow in his father's footsteps and became a police officer. He worked for a couple of years for the Durham Sheriff's Office before he joined the North Carolina Highway Patrol in 2001. Potts was injured in the line of duty in February of 2013 when, on what seemed to be a routine traffic stop, he was shot in both of his hands, in his shoulder, and in his face. 

Mikel Edward Brady II was sentenced to 20 years in prison as part of a plea deal for the shooting. Thankfully, Potts was able to return to his position within a year and by February 2014. Potts saw his bravery and resolve to get back to work as nothing more than just doing his job. In May of 2014, he received the North Carolina Purple Heart for injuries received in the line of duty. 

Here's a photo of him receiving that award:

Angus, thanks for the great cards -- and especially for the excuse to find out about Patrolman Potts and Pete Broberg!


  1. Holy crap I hadn't heard that story about Potts. I love the post career updates, should spend more time following up myself. And the Amen Break... man I learned more from this post than I have all week elsewhere! Great write up

  2. Topps Pristine cards are always kind of a pain to store. I haven't tried popping one of them out yet. Let me know how it goes. I'm always a little paranoid when it comes to that because I tend to be on the shaky hand side.

    Great write up by the way. The Potts story is very interesting. Glad he balanced back.

  3. Great post! The Amen Break is like the Wilhelm Scream in movies...