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If - If 3 CD (album) cover

IF 3

If

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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mystic fred
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars On The band's third album the songwriting is much more commercial, and the same excellent musicianship remains.

The album kicks off with some Chicago sounding brass and Tull style flute playing on the brilliant seven-minute instrumental "Fibonacci's Number", which includes a nice jazzy drum break, followed by one of their best songs "Forgotten Roads" - a compilation CD was released bearing this title as this is one of their best songs; it has a Focus sounding intro, breaking into a catchy chorus "forgotten roads, forgotten people.". The song includes some fine playing including a very fast jazz guitar solo. The beautifully haunting ballad "Sweet January" follows, another very well written song with a good bass line and sax solo, and the marvellously catchy "Child of Storm", closing side 1 with a crash of thunder! "Far Beyond" with its lush backing vocals opens side 2, followed by the strangely titled "Seldom Seen Sam", a quirky musical highlight. The next track "Upstairs" is a rather heavier affair in places reminiscent of Purple's "Chasing Shadows". The last song "Here Comes Mister Time", another album highlight, featuring some clever guitar soloing from Terry Smith.

Though a much more commercial approach from the band on this album with more pop-orientated material, the excellent musicianship remains as strong on previous albums, essential jazz-rock.

Report this review (#132958)
Posted Monday, August 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars Unchanged line-up for this septet that released their third album in early , but on a different label called United Artist, thus abandoning one of the proggiest of labels, Islands, although the recording sessions took place at Islands Studios. With another gatefold sleeve, this time emphasising the UA logo on the back cover, 3 features all original compositions although, strangely enough, they used an outside lyricist for most tracks: Trevor Preston, already seen on one track of their second album.

Starting on the enthralling instrumental Fibonacci's Number, the album gets a really strong start, with the following Forgotten Roads, which was to prove their biggest hits (most notably in Germany). Both tracks are still much in the CTA or BS&T style, although the next Sweet January takes on a more soulish tone in the BS&T and Electric Flag style, even if the flute brings a noble touch. Child Of Storm returns to a better RnB with some excellent jazzy solos, most notably Morissey's awesome alto sax, the track ending in a great thunderbolt.

The flipside gets a Lighthouse-like start (yes, Skip Prokop's Canadian brass rock group Lighthouse) with the cheesy (mostly due to the chorus) Far Beyond (the flipside of the Forgotten road single, both tracks included as pointless bonus here), Seldom Seen Sam is returning to amore comfy RnB with some rather expert soloing from Mealing's electric piano, but Smith's twang-ey closing guitar parts are just not cutting it. The following Upstairs uses a cool organ and massive horn section answering lines. The closing Mr Time uses some more organ moans, this time in a Dave Greenslade and Rod Argent manner with Steve Smith's guitar getting an extra notice, and develops from a slow start with some clever chord changes; it would be one of the album's best track but vocally the track is just average.

As mentioned above, the bonus tracks are a pointless bonus, but 3 remains among the group's best works, and certainly the last of their better ones, 4 being a weird release, sometimes as a studio album, sometimes as a live album, depending which country you were in. So, if you like If's early stuff, this one should be absolutely no problems either.

Report this review (#169644)
Posted Saturday, May 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars With the abundance of new Prog releases it's easy to forget about groundbreaking works of Jazz-Rock pioneers from the early 70's. Especially when a younger generation were not even born at that time. This piece is intended to bring attention to this generally excellent work of this band from the UK.

The band started out strongly - for that era - before reaching their peak here on "If 3" that was maintained on follow up works, then changes in line-up and a nod towards more commercial approaches saw them - rightly - fade away. (Shortly after, their partial reincarnation as Zzebra had some better moments, but never reached their former best.)

The music on "If 3" is a team effort by very capable musicians who are masters of their respective instruments. This is no one-man band with hired hands helping out. No. here everyone is not only permitted, but compelled to shine - and they all do.

Very tight, well crafted compositions from beginning to end represent a fine blend of vocals alternating with great solos. Not surprisingly, band leader Dick Morrissey's excellent sax and flute stands out, but not at the expense of others, more like an element that bonds things together. And Terry Smith on guitar must be heard to be believed. To date (43 years later) few could be compared with his fluid delivery that's bordering on orgasmic. But really, the whole band are collectively great.

Tight, rhythmic and sometimes melodic tunes delivered in a dynamic and compact way, speckled with great solos. Not a single second of filler material here. The band could be likened to Colosseum (not Colosseum II) at their best and fans of that group would find this album very pleasing. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#1189827)
Posted Monday, June 9, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am so enthousiastic about this band.

I only recently discovered them. So to me they are a "new band", so I don't have to worry about not discovering great new bands.

What I love about If is the crossover of 70's rock and jazzrock. The vocals, organ and overall song-approach almost make them a rockband, but the abundance of sax, groove and dynamics make them a bonafide jazzrock band. Most 70's jazzrock is without vocals, so it's very different to other jazzrockbands. The vocals have a theatrical flair to them, making them almost a progrock-band. Also the production, use of flute and the guitar-sound have that classic progrock-feel.

I really don't understand that I have never heard of this band before. They could easily fall in the same category as Caravan and Camel, but with less prominent guitar and more saxophone.

I can recommend this band and this album to all who like prog and jazzrock and seventies rock in general. Really great and very underrated stuff!

Report this review (#2243609)
Posted Wednesday, August 14, 2019 | Review Permalink

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