Category: If

If – If 3

ARTIST: If                     If_3_(If_album_-_cover_art)

TITLE: If 3

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #171

SINGLES: Forgotten Roads, Far Beyond

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nnnnooooopppppeeeee

LINEUP: JW Hodkinson, Dick Morrissey, Dave Quincy, Terry Smith, John Mealing, Jim Richardson, Dennis Elliott

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Third album by jazz-rock combo sounds like a repeat of their first two albums, and it seems flat and same-old when compared to the others.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s some nice playing here and some decent arrangements, but this third record from If is about as imaginative as the title. The vocals and lyrics don’t always seem to the fit right, and even though guitarist Terry Smith does good work (especially on “Here Comes Mr. Time”), it all sounds pretty similar to what’s come before.

There’s more vocals here than on past albums, but moving to a more concise structure doesn’t do much for the album or the group. I’ve moved their catalog into my jazz folders for the most part.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Here Comes Mr. Time” was featured on a United Artists sample album

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with the single mixes.

GRADE: C+: Three records in two years may have spent the ideas for the band. Exiled their catalog to jazz.

If – If 2

ARTIST: If                                              if_2_if_album_-_cover_art

TITLE:  If 2

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #203

SINGLES: Your City Is Falling

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: JW Hodkinson, Dick Morrissey, Dave Quincy, Terry Smith, John Mealing, Jim Richardson, Dennis Elliott

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Still more jazz than rock, the UK combo’s second album pleased fans, but didn’t break them any new audiences.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The members of If were skilled jazz musicians. Their first album really leaned heavily on jazz, but their second adds a little more rock into the mix (thanks to a more out front guitar sound), and vocalist JW Hodkinson is a little more prominent.

Still, though, this is more for jazz fans who want to rock out a little bit. Again, it’s better, and more exploratory, than some of the more popular jazz-rock bands of the time, but the songs aren’t really radio ready, and that limited their audience to those who appreciated the musicianship.

It’s a bit better than album one, if only that the songs are more ‘song’ like. Your appreciation for this will be how much you enjoy getting rock music in your jazz.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The single received a “Special Merit Spotlight” in Billboard, calling it a potential crossover hit. It didn’t hit.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B:  Non-fans of jazz may not be excited about this, but it’s a good representation of how jazz can adapt rock motifs.

If – If

ARTIST: If    If-If-1

TITLE:  If

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #187

SINGLES: Raise the Level of Your Conscious Mind, I’m Reaching Out on All Sides

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW:  None

LINEUP: JW Hodkinson, Dick Morrissey, Dave Quincy, Terry Smith, John Mealing, Jim Richardson, Dennis Elliott

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: UK jazz rockers are more jazzing than rocking.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Formed in 1969, the band If fit right in with Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears, Soft Machine and others who were mining the combination of jazz and rock. If was more of a purer jazz band than Chicago and BST, and were musically adept.

Yet the issue with If, at least on the first album, was creating hooks and melodies that were going to stick with the regular rock and pop audience. They, like the Soft Machine, emphasized the musicianship and the chops, but If forgot some of the basics of rock songwriting 101. Even the boho progressive bands of the time had some hooks in there.

It’s nice kinda jazz kinda rock. Not the fusion that the jazz world was experimenting with, though. This stuff falls into a crack where it’s OK but not challenging for a jazz enthusiast and not song-oriented enough for a pop fan.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Their 1970 tour saw them at the Fillmore East with Black Sabbath and Faces. One of these things is not like the other.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Two bonus cuts, the cut down versions of the singles..

GRADE: B-. Jazz rock people may like it, because they’re better than the BST album cuts (and the later stuff by them) and they play pretty well. Still, the songs don’t quite work as songs.