Billy Vaughn was an American multi-instrumentalist and band leader, who had success in the 1950s and 1960s. These were days when a hot dance band could earn a living playing instrumental versions of popular tunes. It was the quality of the playing and the inventiveness of the arrangement, rather than new material, which was the selling point. Do something different, make it new.
This track, “Wabash Blues,” does that, but it also sounds weirdly familiar. Anyone who grew up when ABBA were giants, in the 1970s, will know what I mean.
ABBA’s 1974 single, the somewhat repetitively titled “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do”, begins like this:
“Wabash Blues” begins like this:
Slow down the tempo of “I Do x 5”, and it sounds like this:
Speed up the tempo of “Wabash”, and this is what you get.
Vaughn’s record was a hit around the world, including Sweden, in 1959, when Benny and Bjorn were teenagers. Bound to have heard it …
No problem in that. Music is, in Bob Dylan’s immortal words, a matter of love and theft. Everyone steals from everyone else. What matters is the end product. “I Do” is not ABBA’s finest work, but the sax is the highlight. And Billy Vaughn’s version of “Wabash Blues” is a delight. He takes a jaunty ragtime tune from the 1920s, turns it into something from a burlesque show, with wonderful sleazy sax.
- Artist: Billy Vaughn And His Orchestra
- Single Title: Carnival In Paris / Wabash Blues
- Track: Side B “Wabash Blues”
- Format: 7”, 45 rpm
- Label: London 45-HL-1566
- Manufactured in: Australia
- Year: 1959
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