IF – If 4

After being blown away by the first If album that I tried I was determined to find more, and their fourth album is the first that I came across. The first oddity is that I thought they only made three albums with numbers as titles, and yet here we have ‘If 4’. The second oddity is that most of this is live - yet it is so well played that you don’t realize until the audience applauds – and it is all new material. And what material it is. ‘Sector 17’ kicks things off as they mean to go on, with fuzzed bass, staccato Softs-like keyboards, and some excellent jazz guitar from Terry Smith. It doesn’t outstay its welcome one bit, despite clocking in at over ten minutes long, and you can understand the audience’s enthusiastic applause. ‘The Light Still Shines’ is an altogether lighter piece, this time with a vocal (as do all the other tracks), and showcases the keyboards with some fine fingerwork. ‘You In Your Small Corner’ is a soulful ballad, where the horns have a distinctly Memphis sound to them, and ‘Waterfall’ has a pop edge to the melody which makes it very easy on the ear. It also includes a good flute solo, one of the few tracks here to feature the instrument. ‘Throw Yourself To The Wind’ is another live track, and is quite reminiscent of Colosseum’s work on their ‘Valentyne Suite’ album, while ‘Svenska Soma’ closes the album with an upbeat jazz tune which once again gives John Mealing a chance to show off on the keys. This album is out on CD, and if you can find it (I have a feeling it might have only appeared in Germany) it has a couple of fine bonus tracks in ‘Paint Your Picture’ and ‘Cast No Shadow’, both of which fit in perfectly with the main album. Very, very highly recommended, and it is just a shame that it has taken over thirty years for the band to finally be recognized for the exceptional group of musicians that they were.