Whereas fIREHOSE's debut, 1986's Ragin', Full On, was issued quickly to get the new outfit off the ground (two of the three members were still reeling from the death of their previous band's frontman, the Minutemen's D. Boon), their sophomore effort, 1987's If'n, included more cohesive and focused songwriting. Touring together had obviously made Watt-Hurley-Crawford tighter as a unit, and several of their best all-time compositions reside here. Although the debut incorporated other musical forms besides punk and hard rock (funk, jazz, etc.), If'n was the first fIREHOSE release to feature folk-style originals -- such as Crawford's "In Memory of Elizabeth Cotton." Standouts include the album opening highway anthem "Sometimes," the groovy '50s feel of "Honey, Please," the laid-back "Backroads," and the irate rockers "Anger" and "For the Singer of R.E.M." Also featured are several Mike Watt lead vocal spots -- the perennial concert favorite "Making the Freeway" (included on the 1993 mini-album Live Totem Pole EP), the humorous "Me & You Remembering," "Operation Solitaire," and the closing epic "Thunder Child."
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato