Saturday, September 20, 2008

Blue Rubies?

I don’t know how it happened that I acquired so many Mercury singles when I was little. I know my parents bought “Mama from the Train” by Patti Page and “The Stroll” by the Diamonds. I don’t think they went out and bought the handful of non-charting Mercury singles that wound up in my collection. Maybe they went to the Mercury Records Outlet Store, or maybe our milkman from Bowman Dairy, the last dairy in our area to deliver milk in glass bottles, delivered 45s as a sideline, and he specialized in Mercury castoffs.

However it happened, three-year-old caithiseach tended to find the Mercury imprimatur to be a sign that good music sat in the groove of the 45. At some point, most likely, a local distributor ran out of warehouse space and dropped a bunch of Mercury singles at the Big Top where Uncle Tom shopped for me. The difference between the Mercury cutouts and many of the others was that even the Mercury flops sounded good to me.

Considering that today’s artist managed a Hot 100 hit, though not with this single, it surprises me how little information I could find about Jimmy Edwards. Of course, as was the case with another Mercury artist, Michael Allen, these artists with two first names tend to draw lots of search-engine hits, and maybe I narrowed down my searches too much. My chart book helped me out a bit, so I’ll tell you what I know.

Jimmy Edwards (born 1933) was a singer/songwriter with rockabilly leanings. Born Jim Bullington, he recorded his first hit-to-be, “Love Bug Crawl,” in 1957. If you own the version on Wednesday Records, hang on to it, as it seems to be worth about $400. He re-recorded “Love Bug Crawl” (Mercury 71209) after he signed with Mercury, and that version went to #78 in its three weeks on the Billboard Top 100, moving 96-78-100 (tie) beginning 1/20/1958. That’s not the record that came to me from Uncle Tom.

My single was “Golden Ruby Blue” (Mercury 71272), which, according to the amazing database compiled by Terry Gordon, is the B side of “My Honey.” Three-year-old caithiseach cared little for the politics of A sides, especially when neither side was played on the radio, so I never knew that I had latched onto the wrong side of this one.

Both sides of the 45 are uptempo numbers, with “My Honey” following the classic rockabilly pattern, guitar solo included. “Golden Ruby Blue” substitutes a sax solo for the guitar, but that wasn’t my compelling reason for choosing that side to play: the title phrase, repeated frequently in the opening chorus, hooked me.

Mercury 45 labels are very stingy when it comes to production information, and surprisingly forthcoming in other areas. I can tell you that the single was released on March 3, 1958, and that the Anita Kerr Singers accompanied Mr. Bullington, which might strike one as odd for a rockabilly 45. However, Anita Kerr and her singers backed many singers who recorded in Nashville, and the Nashville Sound owes something to them, if not as much as to Floyd Cramer and Chet Atkins. Anita Kerr herself produced the LP End of the World for Skeeter Davis, which made Ms. Kerr one of the first women to produce anything recorded in Nashville.

Both sides of the 45 were written by Jimmy Minor and Robert Cloud. Jimmy Minor seems to be the first Country artist signed to United Artists, according to his son, Todd. One of his known recordings, “Reveille,” is still listed as one of the pair’s BMI compositions, but “Golden Ruby Blue” and “My Honey” are no longer part of BMI’s records. Jimmy Minor had enough going for him to earn studio time with the best Nashville Sound musicians, so I hope to come across some of his work someday.

When you listen to the 45, you will hear some surface noise. I was surprised to hear how rough “My Honey” is, considering that I played “Golden Ruby Blue” almost exclusively. The single lived without benefit of a sleeve in my box of records for a really long time, and that probably has a lot to do with the number of clicks and pops on the rarely played side.

That’s pretty much all I have found so far on these artists, so I’ll leave it here for now. Next week, I’ll look at an RCA artist I mentioned in connection with Jeff Barry back in April. They are linked in my mind because they both released obscure singles on RCA. I loved next week’s songs almost as much as Jeff’s tunes, and his story merits a full week of posts. See you Wednesday!

Jimmy Edwards, Golden Ruby Blue

Jimmy Edwards, My Honey

1 comment:

todd minor said...

My dad Jimmy Minor, did record for Mercury and ua records. He recorded DEATH ROW, with flip side SATANS CHAEUFFER. He recorded another 45, titled IM A FOOL FOR YOU, and A cash remake of DOGGONE LONESOME. Radio stations refused to play death row. It was to harsh for the time I guess. Lyrics go like this AS THE GAS AROUND ME CREEPS, AND LONGS ME TO MY FINAL SLEEP, THERE IS JUST ONE OTHER THING ID LIKE TO KNOW. DO BABIES CRY DO BABIES LAUGH, JUST LIKE THEY DID IN YEARS GONE PAST, BEFORE MY HOME BECAME A CELL IN DEATH ROW. He wrote the song about Charles Chessing, who was on death row in california for 12 years in the late 1950s. You should hear the opening guitar licks between chet atkins and my dad on SATANS CHAUEFER. The opening the song picking. The song is about the guy who drives satan around. Lyrics WHEN YOU RIDE WITH US IT WILL BE TO LATE, FIRE AND BRIMSTONE WILL BE YOU FATE, YOU CANT TURN THIS WAGON AROUND, SATAN CHEAUFFER IS DRIVING THIS RIDE. Ive got all my dads records on cd now, and they soound just like the original records, with the static off the original records. Interested email me at

Todd Minor