Saturday, September 26, 2009

Jimmy DeBerry & Walter Horton - "The Complete 1972/73 Memphis Sessions"

These two records comprise the entirety of the Memphis sessions recorded for Crosscut Records by Jimmy DeBerry and Walter Horton in 1972-73. They are among the rarest items I have, and they offer a good object lesson in the pleasures and perils of obsessing over rare records. The fact is, most of the time when you finally track down that long out-of-print oddity you've been searching for, you realize there's a damn good reason the thing is so rare: it's usually not very good. However, once in awhile you come across that rare item that is so amazing it's like discovering buried treasure. Such is the collector's life: mostly disappointed, but elated often enough to keep you going.

The two records in this post offer a little bit of each sensation. Years ago, I became mildly obsessed with Jimmy DeBerry after hearing the four solo sides he cut for Sun records in the 1950s (his 5th Sun appearance is, of course, as the somewhat erratic rhythm guitarist on Walter Horton's classic "Easy.") So, for years I wanted to track down these two records, both because Walter Horton was my favorite harmonica player, and I was already in the process of collecting everything he ever recorded, but also because I wanted more from Jimmy DeBerry.

Well, it's a mixed bag here. Jimmy is one of those bluesmen - much like John Lee Hooker or Lightnin' Hopkins - who really should never be recorded with other musicians. His timing is too idiosyncratic, he doesn't follow any set chord progression... in short, he's a disaster to try to accompany, and the LAST thing he should be doing is accompanying someone else. You can hear the frustration in Walter's voice as he tries to teach his old friend the stop-time intro to "Hard Hearted Woman." When he pleads, with strained patience, "Listen to me, Jimmy," it's hard not to share the feeling he must have had that maybe this just wasn't meant to be.

There are other issues: the sound quality isn't too bad here, but the mix is pretty amateurish, with the voice too quiet, the harp too forward, and there are some "musicians" on a couple tracks that really don't belong anywhere near a recording studio (a godawful harp player on "Before Long" and a barely competent drummer on "Jimmy's Back"). Honestly, there are several tracks here that didn't need to be released at all; two versions of "Everybody's Fishing" or "Goin' Up On a Harvest" is probably overdoing it some.

However... then, there's the gold.

I think Jimmy DeBerry is an amazing singer, and, when he is left alone and unaccompanied, the time I spent searching those dusty record bins for these hunks of wax is suddenly validated. In particular, his jug band-style tunes are terrific and his version of the spiritual "Since I Laid My Burden Down" sends the hair up on my neck every time. Plus, there are those rare moments, like on "Worried, Wonderin' and Glad" or one of the takes of "West Winds," where Jimmy and Walter manage to get in sync with each other, and the results are totally worth the wait. Walter, by the way, is blowing his ass off though much of these sessions, with a tone and attack I've never heard him duplicate elsewhere (what was that amp/mic setup?) and a lot of really creative ideas.

So, in the end, I think there's enough good music here to warrant the download. And there's an occasional bit of greatness. Probably, they could have edited these sessions down to one disk, which would have been a pretty damn solid record. Maybe if they'd done it that way, this stuff wouldn't be as rare as it is today. As it stands, though, you gotta sift through the dregs a bit to get to the gold, and not everyone has the patience for that.

Or for my rambling, come to think of it... okay, I'll shut up. Enjoy.

Vol 1 - "Easy"
1. Little Walters Boogie
2. Bring It On Down To My House
3. West Winds Are Blowing
4. Jimmy DeBerry's Kansas City Blues
5. Hard Hearted Woman
6. Baby Please Don't Go
7. Take A Little Chance
8. They All Ask For Me
9. Easy
10. Before Long
11. Train of Consciousness
12. Electrocution Blues
13. Everybodys Fishin
14. Goin Up On A Harvest

Vol 2 - "Back"
1. Jimmy and Walters Boogie
2. Take A Little Chance
3. Before Long
4. They All Ask For Me
5. West Winds Are Blowing
6. Electrocution Blues
7. Goin Up On A Harvest
8. Twice As Easy/Need My Baby
9. Bring It On Down To My House
10. Worried, Wonderin and Glad
11. Jimmy's Back
12. Everybody's Fishin
13. Since I Laid My Burden Down


  1. Jimmy DeBerry & Walter Horton : Easy & back

    Wow!!.. at last I see a good rip of these two lp's.
    Really this not great music overall, but I'm a great fan of walter Horton and I enjoy with his playing....Yeah!!!, I also want all his recordings.

    Thanks a lot!!

  2. A small postscript: Since I wrote this post, I've discovered there are a whole set of Jimmy DeBerry recordings from 1939 that I never knew existed... anyone who's interested can check them out here:

    1. was this an upload of these reordings do you have them as mp3s? can you upload ti zippshare please?

  3. Updated with new link to the "Easy" record...

    1. can you reup both ease and back in zippy please?

  4. May I ask what label these are on? What are the catalog #'s? Did they issue any other albums?


  5. As mentioned above, the label is Crosscut Records. The catalog #s are "CCR 1021" and "CCR 1022."

    Crosscut, as a google search reveals, is a German record label with a bunch of other great music available. The 2 "Jimmy & Walter" records have never been re-issued, however, and are not listed anywhere on their site that I can see.

  6. can you repost in zippyshare or ziddu please?

  7. Rapidshare is no more. Is there somewhere else that we can get these? Thanks.