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If - If CD (album) cover

IF

If

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.75 | 48 ratings

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stefro
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Charting the same jazz-rock course as the likes of Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears, Satisfaction and Trifle and featuring future Foreigner drummer Dennis Elliot amongst their ranks, Britain's If were a talented seven-piece who produced handful of noteworthy albums during the early part of the 1970s, though overall their style was somewhat poppier than the fusion groups who were re-popularizing the jazz genre at that time, the likes of Nucleus, Soft Machine and John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra. The First album, titled simply 'If', is undoubtedly their best, with catchy hooks adorning the softly-played jazz rhythms and a strong focus on structured song-writing as opposed to improvisational jams. However, that's not to say If are a pop band per se, far from it, and tracks such as the lengthy, eight-minute 'What Did I Say About The Box Jack?' and the cool instrumental 'Dockland' are testament to If's melding of styles and tones. Their real ace, though, lies in the shape of frontman J. W. Hodgkinson, whose deep, bassy vocals add a whole new dimension to the jazz-rock formula. Vocals in fusion or jazz-rock are difficult to pull of, hence the poppier nature of this material, yet here the combination works beautifully, adding a rich lyrical layer to proceedings. Subsequent albums would repeat the sonic trick with slightly diminishing returns, though both If2 and If3 are still recommended. A graceful, enjoyable and extremely well-crafted debut, this unique mixture of jazz, rock, pop and orchestral flourishes proves a delightful surprise indeed.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

stefro | 4/5 |

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