“intriguing” (Shepherd Express)

Lost-And Found: As countless new CDs continue to push existing music out of the racks and into the cutout bins, used stores and (gasp) even the trash, plenty of worthy albums get unjustly overlooked. In fact, pop-music history is littered with artists both famous and obscure whose work stands defiantly alone—too quirky, too unorthodox or just too demented to appeal to either a mainstream audience or even so-called fans. Lost in the Grooves: Scram’s Capricious Guide to the Music You Missed (Routledge), edited by Kim Cooper and David Smay, sets out to right those wrongs by spotlighting more than 100 musicians whose art—and in some cases, careers—simply don’t slot neatly into any one category. With pithy, smartly written essays by contributors to Scram magazine, a self-acclaimed quarterly “journal of unpopular culture,” Lost in the Grooves is structured alphabetically in an encyclopedic format. That makes finding the Dream Lake Ukulele Band’s self-titled 1976 album just as easy as locating Terence Trent D’Arby’s 1993 Symphony or Damn. The Beach Boys, John Cale, Glen Campbell, Marvin Gaye, the Hollies, Jefferson Airplane, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Prince and Dwight Yoakam all get nods here; and fans of lo-fi garage rock, French avant-garde, roots rock, psycho folk, proto-punk, ’80s soul and bubblegum pop will all find something to discover within these 304 pages. Readers won’t, however, find many recent releases. Rather, Scram’s writers seem particularly partial to vintage children’s music (Flo & Eddie’s The World of Strawberry Shortcake and The Alvin Show by Alvin and the Chipmunks) and novelty records (Rock Fantasy, a concept album from K-Tel that explores animals’ psychological character traits; Chevrolet Sings of Safe Driving and You, a circa-1965 musical set of rules for new drivers performed by an outfit called the First Team; and The Wozard of Iz: An Electronic Odyssey by Mort Garson & Jacques Wilson). Many featured titles are only available on vinyl; indeed, part of this collection’s charm is the way writers call these albums “records,” not CDs, and make references to Side One and Side Two. Still, it would have been helpful for editors Cooper (who also edits Scram) and Smay (co-author of Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth: The Dark History of Prepubescent Pop from the Banana Splits to Britney Spears) to indicate which titles eventually did make it to disc—even if they’re currently out of print. Interspersed throughout the book are intriguing sidebars that excerpt original record reviews from the likes of Creem and Flash, and compile such lists as the “Top 10 Non-Goth Albums Goths Listen To” (topped by Johnny Cash’s American IV: The Man Comes Around) and the “6 Greatest Midget Rock & Roll Records” (with Bushwick Bill’s Little Big Man topping the list). The book’s contributors, although keen on putting any given album and its artist into some sort of context, have a tendency to knock well-known critics who panned these records upon their initial release or to go over the top with their effusive praise. That said, this book does what any good music journalism should do: It makes readers want to seek out—or maybe, at least in a few cases, rediscover— some of the records that people who love records truly care about. As contributor Brian Doherty writes in his assessment of Loudon Wainwright III’s 2001 album, Last Man on Earth: “Discovering it … makes you wonder what else everyone is missing.” (Michael Popke, Shepherd Express)