Amen – Peanut Butter Conspiracy
I suppose I should have saved this one for last given the title, but when I realised early on while doing this list that my own tastes and likes would mean I ran out of my favourite tracks early on, I enlisted the help of Microsoft Excel to randomise the order and ‘Amen’ comes just over halfway through.
‘Amen’ goes back to 1948 when it was first recorded by the Wings Over Jordan Choir. It was then used in the 1963 Sidney Poitier film ‘Lilies Of The Field’. This inspired Curtis Mayfield, who was in The Impressions at the time, to record their own version of the track. That version would go to number 7 in the US and is a brassy number, done to a marching beat. As the lyrics suggest it is a gospel song which talks about Jesus calling his disciples and John the Baptist baptising people.
The Peanut Butter Conspiracy slow the song down when compared to The Impressions and make it more of a crowd dancing and skipping down to the River Jordan, than the march that The Impressions make of it. The PBC version also builds deliciously, starting out with clicking fingers and a muted chorus singing the repeated ‘Amen’. Brian Mulder’s gruff voice tells us that ‘anybody who doesn’t know the words to this song has a hole in his soul’. The clicking fingers are joined by handclaps and then a swaying from side to side bass as the ‘Amen’s grow louder and Mulder’s starts singing the various bits of biblical stories. The song now has the feel of one of those scenes in a movie where a musician starts something while walking down a street as as they walk, they are joined by more and more people until a whole parade with trumpets has joined in.
But just as this parade takes shape, the song seems to turn a corner and fades out. It is a great builder, and the Peanut Butter Conspiracy would definitely have plugged any holes in souls with this rousing gospel track and would, I am sure, have gathered together a crowd, had they marched down a street singing this. They scored their 3rd Springbok top 20 hit with ‘Amen’ which ended up spending 3 weeks at 2 while Charisma’s ‘Mammy Blue’ was busy setting the record for weeks at 1 by a local song (it would manage 12 weeks there). It would also be 1 of 5 local songs to enter the top 20 at position 10 or higher. This is not surprising as it is a great track. Can I get an ‘Amen’?
Where to find it:
Vinyl: Peanut Butter Conspiracy – Peanut Butter Conspiracy (1971), CBS, ASF1627