Ivor Cutler's appearance on two tracks of Robert Wyatt's harrowing 1973 album Rock Bottom led to the Scottish poet/musician's signing to Wyatt's label, Virgin Records. Although Cutler had been releasing records for a full decade and a half before the appearance of 1974's Dandruff, his debut on the U.K.'s pre-eminent art rock label brought his unique and occasionally unsettling whimsy an entirely new audience. Opening with a surprising brief instrumental played on an African-tuned percussion instrument, Dandruff quickly settles into familiar Cutler territory. Daffily dreamlike poems like "Dad's Lapse," about an adulterous fling with a polar bear, alternate with more reflective pieces such as "I Love You" and "Hair Grips," both of which suggest an intriguing new stance on the battle of the sexes. Phyllis King recites both of those poems and a small handful of others; she would go on to take an even more active role on Cutler's next two albums. Fans of Cutler's songs, unfortunately, might feel somewhat shortchanged by Dandruff, which consists primarily of poems and brief stories. However, the few proper songs are choice, with the bouncy, calypso-flavored "I Believe in Bugs," a particularly beloved addition to the Cutler canon. Perhaps most interestingly for Cutler fans, Dandruff introduces two chapters of what would go on to become his masterwork, the surreal autobiography Life in a Scotch Sitting Room, Vol. 2.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason