Surveying Rip It Up, the National Museum of Scotland’s 2018 celebration of Caledonian pop, Matt Brennan and Raymond MacDonald noted a conspicuous absence: that of Glasgow-born Ivor Cutler. True, the late poet, songwriter and humorist wasn’t really pop – his minimalist verse was delivered in lowering tones to a wheezing first world war harmonium – but he became a cult figure, not least among Scots musicians, as testified by the stellar cast of this tribute, which includes members of Lau, Franz Ferdinand and Belle and Sebastian, along with folkies such as Karine Polwart.
Its 26 tracks, many under two minutes, prove a lot of fun. Cutler’s work was by turns charming, pithy and mordant, but his delivery, the cadent voice and harmonium, was unvarying. Brennan and MacDonald mix it up; indie rock for Pickle Your Knees, 2-Tone reggae for Shut Up!, shimmering dream pop for Shoplifters, electro ambience for spoken-word recitals. Cutler, a lifelong member of the Noise Abatement Society, may not have approved. His solitary minor hit, Women of the World (“take over, because if you don’t the world will come to an end”), becomes a jaunty marching song. The intention, to affirm Cutler as a national treasure, succeeds beautifully.