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Jazz Related Rock • United Kingdom
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If was a seminal band formed in 1969 as Britain’s answer to the pioneering U.S. bands Blood, Sweat and Tears and Chicago. Unlike these groups, however, If did not have a trumpet or trombone player but instead featured two saxophone players. Essentially a live band, true to its strong jazz influences, If was one of the few jazz-rock groups, both then and now, to feature solos by all the band members, not just by the lead instruments. Like early pioneers Chicago, If were difficult to classify with any of their contemporaries; they seemed out of place wherever they played, and were considered too jazzy when billed with groups with more of a rock orientation, and too bluesy or loud when billed with more jazz-oriented bands. They toured extensively in Europe and the United States during the early 1970s, with two U.S. tours during their first year, performing at most of the major read more...
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Europe 1972Europe 1972
Repertoire 1997
$11.49
$7.90 (used)
Fibonaccis Number / More Live IfFibonaccis Number / More Live If
Remastered
Repertoire 2010
$10.73
$12.99 (used)
Not Just Another Bunch Of Pretty Faces/Tea Break Is Over-Back On Your 'EadsNot Just Another Bunch Of Pretty Faces/Tea Break Is Over-Back On Your 'Eads
Sunrise Records
$18.13
If 2If 2
Limited Edition
Repertoire 2006
$9.42
$26.86 (used)
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IF Discography

IF albums / top albums

IF If album cover 3.54 | 5 ratings
If
Jazz Related Rock 1970
IF If 2 album cover 3.55 | 2 ratings
If 2
Jazz Related Rock 1970
IF If 3 album cover 3.55 | 2 ratings
If 3
Jazz Related Rock 1971
IF If 4 album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
If 4
Jazz Related Rock 1972
IF Waterfall album cover 3.75 | 2 ratings
Waterfall
Jazz Related Rock 1972
IF Double Diamond album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Double Diamond
Jazz Related Rock 1973
IF Not Just Another Bunch Of Pretty Faces album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Not Just Another Bunch Of Pretty Faces
Jazz Related Rock 1974
IF Tea-Break Over, Back on Your 'Eads! album cover 1.50 | 1 ratings
Tea-Break Over, Back on Your 'Eads!
Jazz Related Rock 1974
IF If 5 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
If 5
Jazz Related Rock 2016

IF EPs & splits

IF live albums

IF Europe '72 album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Europe '72
Jazz Related Rock 1997

IF demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

IF re-issues & compilations

IF Forgotten Roads: The Best of If album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Forgotten Roads: The Best of If
Jazz Related Rock 1995
IF Not Just Another Bunch of Pretty Faces / Tea-break Over-Back on Your 'Eads album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Not Just Another Bunch of Pretty Faces / Tea-break Over-Back on Your 'Eads
Jazz Related Rock 2005
IF Fibonacci's Number - More Live If album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Fibonacci's Number - More Live If
Jazz Related Rock 2010

IF singles (0)

IF movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

IF Reviews

IF If 4

Album · 1972 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Sean Trane
If’s discography is not that simple because of the different release not getting the same artwork on simply not getting a release, this phenomenon reaches its apex with their fourth release, which is more or less the “Waterfall” European release (not sure of this though) and this album sports at least two different artworks (one black/silver and one red/white, that I’ve seen so far). In either case, the line-up has remained stable; including the present album, but it will soon suffer its first and only change (but a major one) after the release of this one. . .

In itself the succession of tracks is already a bit bizarre, as there are some live tracks and studio tracks and the way they get stuck together is highly disputable

The opening Sector 17 track (a 10-mins+ instrumental) is probably the one most likely to please progheads with its fuzzed out bass, searing guitar, excellent alternating sax solos, and not forgetting the usual brass section, etc…. we could be in a Soft Weather Nucleus Mahavishnu Forever album. Maybe If’s best track with Fibonacci on the previous album and ending in a Colosseum-esque fashion. The following Light Still Shines is bringing us back down to earth after such tremendous start, with the average sung track that brings us back almost to BS&T (well I said almost) and slightly lengthy as well. The track Your Small Corner doesn’t have the full-horn section aggression of its predecessor, but it’s not that strong a tune either, some parts in the chorus sounding lifted, but I fail to see where.

The flipside starts with the flute-laden Waterfall, which will directly please progheads better, but it’s also a more challenging songwriting we face here and its cool psychy flute solo. Up next is Throw Myself To The Wind, which is rather pedestrian in its construction, but the middle section is good. The closing cover of Svenska Soma (I image Swedish Summer) is the second highlight of the album with Mealing’s organ drawing the glory here, but the whole band is shining, but not as hard as in Sector 17. Please note that two tracks on the flipside were apparently recorded live, including the closing one.

After the release of their best albums, If will implode and leaving the two sax players Morrissey and Quincy to rebuilt from scratch, and looking for a record deal. They will succeed , releasing two further albums (on Gull Records) with unlikely names under a fairly different sounding line-up (including future Procol member Geoff Whitehorn and Magno on keys), but the charm was broken. Returning to their fourth album, this is their better album, and it’s a shame things broke down at this point. While it’s difficult to give a “better’ album to start with, it’s clearly the UA label albums that are the better ones.

IF If 3

Album · 1971 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Sean Trane
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.

IF If 2

Album · 1970 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Sean Trane
Coming in an impressive gatefold psych cover (this album like most of their earlier albums received different artworks and sometimes names, rendering their discography difficult to find your way through), If’s second album is certainly their crowning achievement of sorts, but I personally prefer their debut. With an unchanged line-up, but a few tours (including US tour with Black Sabbath and Rod Stewart), they even recorded this album in NY, with Morrissey and Quincy again taking the lion’s share of the songwriting to them.

Opening up on the soulful Your City Is Falling, the track’s best moments are the excellents drum breaks around the end of the track. The following Sunday Sad starts on a pastoral electric Spanish-sounding guitar mixed with a quiet flute, soon joined by Hodgkinson’s soulful vocals, but Smith’s psych guitar solo takes the show, excellently underlined by the pulsing and flamencoing bass of Richardson. Lonesome Nymphomaniac (a rare Mealing composition) is not my fave on this album, partly because it’s a bit messy in the recording, most notably the very shallow space allotted for most of the instruments in the stereo space.

The flipside starts on the lengthy Motown-like track, but soon digresses into a series of excellent solos, including an epic guitar solo. Fellow British jazzer writes the next Shadows And Echoes, where after a full-fledged jazz tour of the group, the guitar gets very jazzy this time around. The closing Song For Elsa is much more of a Colosseum track than most of the rest of the album, with the two saxes again pulling a Heckstallian trick every now and then.

The Repertoire mini-Lp reissue is a little beauty but didn’t add any bonus material (no single taken from this album, unlike for the debut and their third), thus leaving a rather short disc. Nevertheless this album is yet another classic brass rock album that deserves 100 times more its inclusion in the PA, rather than those bloody sweaty tearful excuses for albums.

IF If

Album · 1970 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Sean Trane
If is England’s answer to Chicago or Blood Sweat & Tears, and with no small surprise the UK answer approaches Chicago’s quality and easily surpasses BS&T. But comparing If to Chicago is at best unsatisfactory and at worst is misleading: not more instrumental than Chicago (and no trumpet or trombone), If is also less of a straight brass rock outfit, and more of a real jazz rock group, often coming close to Colosseum or Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express. The septet is based around wind players Dave Quincy and Dick Morrissey, the main songwriters. The original line-up on this album will remain unchanged much like their US alter-ego Chicago for quite a while.

Starting out on the absolutely delightful Reaching Out On All Sides (also issued as a single), the group shows a real knack for writing inventive jazzy tunes that have a rock edge, while making it interesting for demanding music fans. All Sides comes with a good searing guitar solo, underlined by Mealing’s organ, then the saxes come in a very Heckstallian fashion. Hodgkinson’s voice is fairly close to Chicago’s singer. The lengthy instrumental About The Box is probably the A-side’s highlight, with Morrissey’s flute drawing a long solo before the two saxes cut away in a Heckstall manner, allowing for Smith’s guitar to wallow much like Clempson’s did. This second track is probably the most Colosseum-like of the album. Rounding off the first side is the 7-mins What Can A Friend Say, which boasts a very brassy rhythm’n blues, in this case reminiscent of Chicago or The Flock, but boasting yet another stellar electric guitar.

The flipside is made of four shorter tracks, with the rapid 100 mph soul number “Woman, Can You See?” track, where the repeating sax riffs and chorus and a sizzling solo of the same instrument. Conscious Mind did not steal its name, as it is easily the easiest track on the album, this being the attempt at mass exposure via the single. Best forgotten if you ask me. Dockland is a strange and slow (almost doomy) track, which seem to emphasize dark atmospheres, but Smith’s guitar is again the main solo instrument, again a bit reminiscent of Hiseman’s tribe. The closing Promised Land is an upbeat funky track that contains plenty of intricate arrangements, but cannot escape a pop feel, but positively said. The bonus tracks are no added value as they are the single version of two album tracks, therefore only adding a déjà-entendu feel.

Recently, Repertoire records just re-issued the first two in a mini-lp format, and I only wish they’d get the license to do the same with the next two, but whether this is likely is difficult to say since the first two were issued on Island records, while the next two were on United Artists. In either case, this first album is an absolute must for those wanting to find the perfect link between brass-rock (since If did not have brass instrument proper, but woodwind instruments) and jazz-rock.

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