IF — If 4 (review)

IF — If 4 album cover Album · 1972 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
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.

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