If

If

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    8
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If's first album came out in the summer of 1970, while most horn-driven jazz-rock bands were still mimicking the successful formula employed by Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears. If was different, with more of a jazz feel on both the instrumental and the vocal ends. The material on If provides plenty of room for reedmen Dave Quincy and Dick Morrissey, plus guitarist Terry Smith, to stretch out. Though not particularly deep or profound, the lyrics nonetheless express the positive, optimistic sentiments prevalent at the time. J.W. Hodgkinson's unusual tenor vocal timbre fits like a lead instrument in the mix, soaring above and within the arrangements. "What Can a Friend Say" kicks the album off in fine style, setting the parameters within which the band works throughout the rest of the disc, with the horns complementing Hodgkinson's rendering of the verses, which wrap around excellent, extended sax and guitar solos. The instrumental "What Did I Say About the Box, Jack?" showcases Morrissey's high-octane flute work and the speedy fingers of guitarist Smith. The album continues in the same consistently excellent vein, with the ballad "Dockland" providing a beautiful respite toward the end of the album.

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