When I die, I want to take George Worthmore (www.georgeworthmore.com) with me. No, I don’t have anything against George. It’s just that I see life as the prologue to a much greater journey that begins when we depart this planet, a journey that demands universal music. Now I know, most people would say the Rolling Stones are the greatest band to ever exist, but let’s face it, twelve trips around Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out (1970, Decca) and everyone’s ready to puke. No, the afterlife requires much more than just commercial success. It requires amazing talent from a universal man like George Worthmore.
So what is the universal man? It’s someone who can play music from any genre and any era, including anything between THE RIDICULOUS AND THE SUBLIME which just happens to be the title of George’s 2008 CD. So what better way to start off this spectral compendium than with George’s own swinging finger-picking, big-bang version of BIRTH OF THE BLUES, the 1926 Henderson-Desylva-Brown classic covered by all the greats from Cab Calloway and Shirley Bassey, to Pearl Bailey. This is followed by that wonderfully humorous, through-the-worm-hole traditional I GOT MINE where the one who gets it also gets it in the end.
Track three shifts into a softer, nebulistic finger-picking display of talent with George’s own composition LA BELLE SABINE. He then rockets off by claiming to slow it down with DOC’S GUITAR, a blistering, warp-speed composition by that American finger-picking genius Doc Watson. This, in turn, is followed by a stellar presentation of Thelonious Monk’s 1944 jazz standard ROUND MIDNIGHT which will take you round the moon.
As if that ain’t universal enough, track six comets through NOBODY’S BUSINESS, George’s inspired version of the Eric Von Schmidt and Jerry Jeff Walker classic folk-blues tune Champagne Don’t Drive Me Crazy. Schmidt and Walker extracted this plum from Porter Grainger’s 1920 blue’s standard Ain’t Nobody’s Business of which I am particularly partial to the Frank Stokes cover (from the RCA Victor V-38500-A “race” series, 1928).
Keeping to the 1920’s, on track seven George does an explosive super-nova style finger-picking version of AVALON, the Buddy DeSylva and Vincent Rose classic, of which Al Jolson’s recording rose to number two on the music charts in 1921. Then, on track eight, George time warps back to the 1700’s with GAVOTTE EN RONDEAU, the third movement from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita No. 3 in E major (catalogue number BWV 1006 for violin and BWV 1006a for lute). Here again, George demonstrates his total eclipse as the universal man by adding this shining star to his celestial repertoire.
Coming full circle, the final tracks of this tour-de-force epitomize the ridiculous and the sublime. It starts with the light hearted track nine, a booster-packed ride through GIMME THAT STUFF, a Worthmore composition that’s worth listening to more and more. But the climax finally comes in track ten with what is possibly the most beautiful song ever written: Don Mclean’s VINCENT (American Pie, 1971). George’s heart felt version of this musical motif-de-broderie is one of the finest instrumental linen’s I’ve ever heard, a tapestry that could embrace anyone’s life, past, present or after.
So there it is, the universe, galaxy and solar system of George Worthmore, all in one CD. And by the way, when it’s my time to depart, if you’re not ready to go George, just slip one of your CD’s in my hands. That’ll be just fine.