Monday, June 27, 2005
glisten: guzzle guzzle grape glory
The Nugrape Twins - "I Got Your Ice Cold Nugrape"
The Nugrape Twins - "Nugrape: A Flavor You Can't Forget"
The Nugrape Twins - "Pray Children If You Want to Go to Heaven"
Whenever there's hue and outcry about the corruption of music by corporate rapacity (in that latter case, no doubt warranted), I always find myself thinking about the Nugrape Twins, two little-known gospel artists who changed their name and put out a single/b-side jingle for a popular Southern soda pop company. Here's two folk who probably wouldn't even be known today if it weren't for their sugar-water ditties.
Not sure if I'm making a point here, other than art prevails over all and that you should REALLY listen to these 1926(27?) tracks from the Nugrape Twins. The dischordancy between the tenor and bass voices over the piano is simply amazing; you'd swear they were singing about redemption, not grape soda.
Copyright for the Twins work seems to have drifted into the public hands some years ago; 'I Got Your Ice Cold Nugrape' shows up across a wide strata of reissue albums and over at Archive.org. The rest of the Twins music is, perhaps understandably, neglected; in a funny twist, the very best of the Nugrape Twin's work turned out to be their commercial jingles. The other surviving four sides are enjoyable and affecting gospel not without its charms, but hardly as gripping their work for the soda company. "Pray Children" is probably the best of these, somehow mournful, jaunty and admonishing all at once, but lacking the fizz of the other two.
I'm not the first to feature the Nugrape Twins; Mike McGonigal of the always remarkable 'Buked and Scorned hit on the first of these tracks months ago. Personally, I've been listening to this cut since I was a lil' chick in the early eighties, so I'm happy to have a forum from which to shout out the Nugrape name.
Sip slowly; you don't want to get th' burps.
Buy the complete works of the Nugrape Twins (along with select cuts from forgotten blues titans Lonnie Coleman, Beans Hambone and Willie P. Bennett) on the superior clean-up Document disc, 'Sinners and Saints: 1926-1931'.
This is the real thing: twenty-six obscurities that offer a peek into the culture of black music of the twenties. These songs weren't blockbusters and the performers on this disc aren't legends; they often only cut one record for us to remember them by. These tantalizing tastes of lost sound offer fascinating looks at a disparate handful of men and women's bids for sonic immortality. They hold up pretty goddamn well.
Look over this riotous collection of photoshopped versions of "evil corporations ruining famous album covers"; the take on Wire's '154' is unbelievable.
If you have a taste for the way that commercialism pervades art and media, I strongly recommend you explore the StayFree! website.
StayFree is a wonderful magazine; this month's issue features an interview with the founder of the flash mob phenomenon, critically explores the assumptions and claims behind McDonald's mass advertising and compares the markets for kewpie dolls and sex dolls; I needs a subscription somethin' fierce. Care to join me?
No Nugrape, but you can read hundreds of other soda pop reviews over at Bev.net.
See some gorgeous examples of Nugrape memorabilia.
Join the Nanotechnology list.
Or, you know, just have it ported into your skull by nanobots.
The always reprehensible (but equally huggable) "Bol Guevara, MD" offers promising news for the future.
Anyone out of the boom selection loop should REALLY hustle over there quick: new Lady SOV and some fascinating Brazilian favela funk for the savvy DL'er.