Reviewed by Cindy Reich, Celtic Connection, July, 2007 The worst thing you could ever say about a dance band is that they stuck the feet of the dancers to the floor. There is no chance of that happening listening to Dave Munnelly”s new album, “By Heck”. In fact it makes one look around for a hard floor and a dancing partner from the first notes of the 20″s ceilidh style beginnings of the first cut, “Cuckoo”s Nest/Silver Spire” And, in fact, he took this arrangement from John J Kimmell”s 1915 recording of the “Cuckoo”s Nest”. It has great bounce, lift and energy. There are jigs, reels and barndances galore on this recording. It has such a lovely early 20th century feel to the instrumentals ” intentionally so, as Munnelly draws not only on Kimmell, but also the Flanagan Brothers. In fact, Joe Flanagan had a very similar fast, staccato style of melodeon playing. “Kimmell’s Jigs” (The Lark in the Mountain/Devlin”s Favorite/The Cordial Jig) retain that 30″s style. However, things get a bit jazzy and swingy with the title track, “By Heck”. I especially like the soprano sax by one of the masters of the instrument in Ireland, the incredible Richie Buckley. A Quebecois set, “Cormiers” (Galope a Eddie/Reel du Chat Graffigne/Joe Cormiers” is a really tasty set and highlights the great flute playing of Kieran Munnelly in the first tune. It marches right along with great percussive guitar from Gavin Ralston, and bass lines provided by Joe Csibi. It gets an added boost again from Buckley on soprano and tenor sax. It is full bodied and firmly packed, as we say. A meaty set. A simple, lovely set, “Mc Reels” (Anthony McDonnells/Josie McDermott”s/Johnny Henry”s) is needed to catch one”s breath after the previous set! it is lovely in its simplicity with Munnelly accompanied by Ralson on guitar, brother Kieran on flute and Daire Bracken on fiddle. The standout track of the CD for me was the slow air, “Ar Bhoithrin na Smaointe”. Munnelly, accompanied only Ryan Molly on piano and accents by Buckley is superb. Let one think that this is an instrumental only CD, oh, no, not at all. Andrew Murray, one of the loveliest singers I”ve heard in a long while (see review, June 2007 Celtic Connection) does proud on “P Stands for Paddy”, as well as a grand rendition of Richard Thompson”s “Dimming of the Day”. Helen Flaherty gives us Dougie MacLean”s “The Garden Valley Song”. As a famous late night television host in Ireland used to say each Friday night, there is a “little something for everyone in the house” here, and it is a stunner of a CD. Great tunes done by stellar musicians ” did I mention Paul Kelly (banjo, mandolin, fiddle) along with Csibi, Buckley, Ralston, Molloy, Bracken, Munnelly, Munnelly and LLoyd Byrne on drums?. There are more jigs, reels, polkas and barndances I didn”t get to in the space of this review, but do yourself a favor and get it to listen for yourself. A fabulous CD of 14 cuts ” great tunes, great songs performed by great musicians and singers. Its just great, by heck! Check out Dave”s website at Cindy Reich is a contributing writer to “The Living Tradition”, Ayrshire, Scotland, “Irish Music Magazine”, Dublin, Ireland, and presents the radio music show, “The Long Acre” on Mondays, 1pm-3pm on 88.9 FM, KRFC ” Ft. Collins.

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