There’s a reason you don’t see a whole lot of funk played solo on acoustic guitar: one person can only lay down so much groove, and even the best solo performers can exude only so much energy. That is true even of the inimitable Stevie Wonder, whose Grammy-winning performance on the album Talking Book, which includes the staple Superstition (Wonder wrote the tune when he was just 22) benefits from the considerable abilities of a variety of top-flight musicians, including guitarist Jeff Beck and saxophonist David Sanborn.
The challenge didn’t deter Geoff Achison, the autodidact Aussie guitarist whose high-energy blues-funk sound is remarkably un-effected, from taking a crack at it. On his own terms, Achison succeeds brilliantly. In fact, his rendition eclipses the original version in terms of sheer force, a testament to his hypnotic ability to mix harmonics and tonal percussive effects to fill the room with more sound than a single guitarist has any business making.
On the other hand, it’s clear that something palpable is lost from a song defined at every layer by its hook and grooviness when translated into in a version unrecognizable to the audience until the performer begins to sing. What Achison does here is great, to be sure. But is it Superstition?
To my mind, Achison’s take on The Allman Brothers’ Whipping Post better balances his unique abilities with the integrity of the song. But agree with my take or not, there’s an interesting question here: how much liberty can an interpreter take with a song before it isn’t really the same song anymore at all?