One of the nicest surprises in last year's mail was "Call The Cops," a Blue Wave reissue of a disc originally cut on the Blue Sun label of the then 16-year-old Sean Costello and his Jivebombers. Guitarist Costello, who is heard to superb effect on Susan Tedeschi's "Just Won't Burn," [Tone Cool, 98] had previously won a blues talent contest sponsored by the Memphis Beale Street Blues Society at the age of 14!
The nicest surprise in this century's mail so far has been "Cuttin' In."
With this bigger (if not particularly big) label release, the now 20-year-old Costello is ready to take to the big stages. He's gonna need a blues firetruck to follow him around, too. This young man is seriously on fire. I won't mention names, but most of those other acned boys with the big reps don't belong on the same stage with this kid. Well versed in the roots and the stylistic verbiage of everyone from Magic Sam to Buddy Guy, Muddy, Otis Rush, and other majors, he infuses enough of his own personality into the disc to keep it fresh.
He tackles some pretty major tunes here, the kind that have been done-to-death and already done perfect a couple of different ways, and makes them his own. He's a good singer. He's a riveting guitarist. His chording and single line work on "Ah'w Baby," on which his harp maestro Paul Linden (the only holdover from the Jivebombers) blows and sings, is beautifully done. That he would even try on an Otis Rush classic says something for his youthful bravado. That he tears up "Double Trouble" says more for his chops. He's a first-rate swinger, can crank the nitro with anyone, and mellows down easy with the sensitivity of a seasoned pro.
"Those Lonely" has some pretty strange off-key sounds in the intro that should have been caught by somebody. It's the only mar in an otherwise extraordinary piece of work by a kid who is certainly one of the heavy weights of the future. Keep an ear out.
Landslide, PO Box 20387, Atlanta, GA 30325
This review is copyright © 2000 by Mark E. Gallo, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.