Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
SOME SHINING MOMENTS FROM THEIR BEST ALBUMS
Larry L. Looney | Austin, Texas USA | 06/17/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The tracks contained on this cd, taken from their first three albums [the imaginatively-titled IF, IF2 and IF3, the numbers appearing as exponents, the artwork 70s lame] represent this group of jazz-oriented rockers when their emphasis was truly on jazz. Their fourth album, WATERFALL, was a split effort, comprised of some tracks by the original group and some tracks by a newer version with radical personnel changes. The quality of those first three releases was so high, the level of playing so intense, that I would have gladly shelled out what would have undoubtedly been big bucks for a 3-cd set. As it is, this compilation isn't bad as compilations go.If came along at a time (the early 1970s) when jazz-rock ensembles seemed to be the rage. Here in the US, Chicago Transit Authority and Blood Sweat and Tears were making their mark [a stunningly powerful American band, Ten Wheel Drive never achieved the attention they deserved, but that's another story...], mainly armed with aggressive horn sections as their hallmark. If, a UK outfit whose members were steeped in jazz, instead put reeds up front, presented by the tandem of Dick Morrissey and Dave Quincy, two fine sax players who also doubled on flutes. Terry Smith's lightning-fast, sustain-laden, but ever-tasteful guitar and John Mealing's outstanding work on Hammond organ were also important facets of the band's sound. The rhythm section was ably handled by bassist Jim Richardson and drummer Dennis Elliott. To this already-potent ensemble was added the powerful and expressive voice of J.W.Hodgkinson [who, after leaving If, would resurface in Darryl Way's Wolf on that band's second album].From the very first track on their first album, 'What can a friend say', the listener is keenly aware that something special is happening here. Hodgkinson and the band complement each other extremely well -- and when the lyrics give way to the extended instrumental breaks, everyone gets a chance to shine. The sax lines soar and burn like so one else in this era [with the possible exception of David Jackson's work with Van Der Graaf Generator], showing some real improvisational chops. Terry Smith's guitar cuts a breathtaking swath through the mix. Even the drum solos -- so often overdone by bands in every era -- are interesting, and they're kept to a minimum. The band employs unusual time signatures here and there (I almost said 'from time to time' -- sorry!), notably (sorry again!) in 'Fibonacci's number', when the signature changes from section to section. 'I'm reaching out on all sides' (again, from their debut album) utilizes 7/8, with Hodgkinson's vocal line moving at a seemingly different tempo, until the two patterns coincide again.The lyrics, too, are interesting and well-written -- never trite 'O baby come back to me' stuff, they're openly soul-searching and philosophical in a refreshingly honest way.Every track on this compilation is a good one -- I wish they had found a way to include 'Your city is falling', the grabbing opener from their second album, with some sax solos that could give you a tattoo -- but as I said, I would have bought a 3-cd set in order to have it all.This is great music -- and it's a lot 'jazz'ier than the material released by the other bands mentioned above, those who achieved a higher degree of commercial success.After WATERFALL, If changed directions radically, becoming more of a dance-oriented funk-rock outfit -- a drastic enough change that, in my opinion, warranted a change in name. It really is like listening to two different bands. Most folks who enjoy one don't really get into the other. And believe it or not, the cover art actually got worse...come to think of it, that may have been one of the reasons why this powerful band didn't get a second look (or a first listen) from many people in their day. I guess it's all in the marketing sometimes..."
A must-have collection for jazz-rock fans.
Larry L. Looney | 02/07/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the jazz-rock bands, If trailed only Manfred Mann Chapter III in my book.I met the band at a small club in the Washington, DC, area in the spring of '71; then saw them again the following night at the Univ. of Maryland.All of their albums should be rereleased; but until that day comes, this is a great start.By the way, don't be fooled by two subsequent bands led by Dick Morrissey called If. The real deal made four albums in the 1969-1972 period, all of which featured JW Hodkinson on vocals and Dave Quincy on sax. Organist John Mealing went on to make one great Passport album with Klaus Doldinger.What did I say about the box, Jack? - Dick Morrissey, 1969."
Best of IF
Larry L. Looney | 07/22/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Outstanding collection from an innovative rock/fusion band of the early 70's"