Reports of the death of East Coast session drummer Buddy Saltzman left me wondering how to give him a proper send-off. Saltzman is justly famed for his work with the Four Seasons, especially on the hyperpercussive “Dawn (Go Away),” where he’s all over the kit. And it’s Saltzman who was pressed into duty when Tom Wilson got the idea of turning Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” into a folk-rock number.
But the first thing that came to my mind is this wondrous bit of Shadow Morton-produced teenage angst, from Janis Ian’s first album:
“Janey’s Blues,” track 11, is a full album and 180 degrees away from “Society’s Child,” the hit on track 1; it starts out as gently as you’d expect from something released on Verve’s folky Forecast label, but as Janey’s story unfolds and the perfidy of both parental units is bared, the music escalates, until Artie Butler, representing Janey on the organ, seemingly flees to Wherever, Saltzman marking every step of the way with sheer ferocity. It’s listed with a playing time of “5:84” in the original LP’s liner notes, which doesn’t matter, since you won’t be noticing.