The Cutter is a strange compilation with cash-in written all over it. The front sleeve reads 12 classic tracks. It's a lie. Yes, some of the songs are among the best recorded by Liverpool's finest post-punk band, but the inclusion of two bizarre covers doesn't help the collection reach any sort of classic status. Perhaps WEA Records thought fans would see The Cutter as a best-of collection, which it isn't; maybe they thought those same fans would clamor for the covers of songs by the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. To start with, the album material isn't necessarily the best of. While the songs are a just-decent sample of some of the finer moments from the band's glory days, Songs to Learn and Sing and Ballyhoo are both better introductions. Albums covered include Crocodiles, Heaven Up Here, Porcupine, Ocean Rain, and Echo & the Bunnymen. There are classics here to be sure: "The Cutter," "A Promise," and "Ocean Rain" are all glorious slices. But there are glaring omissions among these classics, including "Lips Like Sugar," "The Killing Moon," "Bring On the Dancing Horses," and "Never Stop." The Cutter might be a nice find in the used CD bin, if one is looking for one particular track and an assortment of other okay songs. The live covers certainly don't justify the album, as they serve merely to break up an otherwise interesting collection. "Paint It Black" sees Ian McCulloch butchering the classic song like a campy vampire; it actually starts out promising, but McCulloch falls apart about a minute and half in. "All You Need Is Love" just sounds stupid, as if the band had only been rehearsing it for a day; there's no passion in the performance. The Cutter would cut cleaner if its cuts included the classics.
AllMusic Review by Tim DiGravina