The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ivor Cutler

12-10-07 Ivor Cutler (1923 – 2006)

(re-run from Aug. ’02)


I first heard of Ivor Cutler when he portrayed “Buster Bloodvessel” in The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” LP booklet. I first heard Ivor Cutler with this LP, “Dandruff”. However, his recording career began in the late 1950’s. “Dandruff” (1974) is (at least) his third LP; I’ve never seen the definitive word on how many recordings he made before this album. I know of 2 LP’s and 2 EP’s, pre-1974. (’07: now on CD!)

Right before “Dandruff” came out, Mr. Cutler appeared on the wonderful Robert Wyatt LP, “Rock Bottom”. I don’t think I realized that he was the same guy who played “Buster Bloodvessel” when I first heard his work on “Rock Bottom”. But it’s probably why I bought “Dandruff”.

Mr. Cutler can not easily be described, but I’ll try. He is a Glaswegian educator, poet, writer and humorist. With a nice thick Glasgow accent, he recites poems, stories and perverse ‘little songs', usually with harmonium accompaniment. Please don’t call his work ‘comedy LP’s’. In addition to LP’s, I’ve found many books by him when I visited England. However, there is simply no way to adequately describe the fineness of his spoken work. You must hear it for yourself.

Amongst the people I know, there are two categories of people, as regards Mr. Cutler and his work: a) People who have never heard of him and b) People who are fanatic about his work. I fall into the latter category.

For example, the first LP review I ever wrote (after school, in the ‘adult’ world) was for his ’76 album “Jammy Smears”, for an tiny music newspaper in Austin (?), Texas (called “The Lamb” – thank you, Mr. Philip Page of Helsinki, Finland). I have also had the luxury of discussing Mr. Cutler and his work with Mr. Pete Brown of London, England - Mr. Brown knows Mr. Cutler personally! Mr. Brown is also the man who turned me on to "Who Tore Your Trousers" (1961), the debut Ivor Cutler LP. Thanks, Pete!

Mr. Cutler is still alive and performing in England. I read recently that at one of his intimate concerts, someone in the audience shouted, “Ivor, we love you!”, to which he replied, “Sorry, I’m not that kind of person”.

Some of Mr. Cutler’s LP’s are shared with Phyllis April King, some are all short stories and songs, some are very long radio plays. All are wonderful.

“Dandruff” begins with the words “My father once had intercourse with a polar bear in Canada. If you ask him he will deny this.” For the ‘punch line’, you’ll have to go out and find a copy of “Dandruff”.

2007 addendum: Mr. Cutler passed away in 2006 and his various labels are taking their time to re-release his material. And there’s also an Ivor Cutler DVD now, “Looking For Truth With a Pin”. "Get Away From The Wall" EP is pictured, not the "Dandruff" CD/LP.


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