Sean Costello left behind only a small selection of live music, but thanks to Landslide Records a new collection of all live recordings, made up of almost all previously unreleased songs, is helping to fill this important gap in the Costello legacy.
The only way to truly appreciate true blues genius is in a live setting. While studio recordings provide a decent musical imprint for most music, there is undoubtedly something lost when that music is blues; something in the grit, the electric connection between sweet-sorrow bringer and starving listener is dissolved.
Sean Costello is gone now, and the world no longer gets that luxury. For the masses that praised him as the leader of a new generation of true blues prophets, his untimely death in 2008 at the age of 28 shook and rattled a community that looked to Costello as a new savior in a parched music wasteland. Already a celebrated guitarist at the age of 14 and well on the way to achieving similar status with his vocals, Costello played with almost every blues giant of the time, including B.B. King, Levon Helm, and Pinetop Perkins. Although these musicians were his heroes, Costello was well-respected even at such a young age and viewed as their equal.
At His Best – Live is a collection vibrating with the old-soul blues brought to life by a man too young to know them so well. Tracks like “All Your Love”, a Magic Sam Maghett tune with the slow-burning intensity of a lover’s strut, bring out the tortuous guitar licks Costello clearly mastered. The collection offers a good sampling of Costello’s versatility, including Bobby Womack’s “Check it Out”, which showcases Costello’s raspy, soulful voice. Every song here is a solid piece of the Costello puzzle. Old fans will rejoice in live versions of their favorites, while new fans will get a lesson in blues-soul fusion.
Make no mistake, to anyone that knew Costello or enjoyed his music, this album is a memorial, and a fine one at that. But every song here could read like a course in blues history, too. There is nothing gratuitously prolonged or sad about this collection; it’s simply a great set of live music that, unfortunately, Costello never got to see released. And yes, that’s sad. But that’s the blues, and that’s the way it goes.
Sean Costello and Jimmy Vivino- All Your Love
Video by Anthony Pepitone at the Living Room in NYC.