IF — If 3 (review)

IF — If 3 album cover Album · 1971 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
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.

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