Ivor Cutler's very earliest work was very hard to find in the decades after it was first issued. This compilation does an exemplary job of restoring it to wide availability, its 28 tracks combining everything from the 1961 LP Who Tore Your Trousers?, the 1959 EP Ivor Cutler of Y'Hup, and the 1961 EP Get Away from the Wall. Cutler's material would become more outrageously surreal on later recordings, perhaps, but these efforts are very much in step with the style for which he's beloved. With almost equal doses of spoken word and warbly singing with harmonium, these pieces take gentle pokes that subtly transform everyday experiences into something nearly surreal. It might be too gentle and subtle for those who like their comedy brash, or for Americans not attuned to his very British brand of humor. Still, it's easy to hear elements that the likes of the Bonzo Dog Band and Monty Python would take to more vivid (and more internationally accessible) extremes. And if it's not often laugh-out-loud funny, or too musically diverse, there's plenty of weird wordplay to generate amusement, such as his ode to a "Muscular Tree" and "Stick Out Your Chest," whose exhortative lyrics are totally undercut by Cutler's knowingly silly tone.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger