Dory Previn – Mythical Kings and Iguanas

After my colleague Dr Stella Creasy was asked to write the sleeve notes of a re-issued Wedding Present album, the Indie asked me to write the sleeve notes of an album I would like to see re-issued. It’s in today: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/teenage-heartbreak-the-wedding-present-and-labour-mp-stella-creasy-8340848.html It got quite heavily subbed so if you want to read the full version it’s here:


When Dory Previn did confessional, it was as if she’d etched out the lyrics into her own flesh with a cold steel scalpel. This album is a series of dark folk ballads that challenge every taboo. “Angels and devils the following day” weighs up the relative advantage of a physically abusive lover against a psychologically abusive one. Sex with a younger man is explored in “Lemon haired ladies” with the sardonic lines “Whatever you give me, I’ll take as it comes, Discarding self-pity, I’ll manage with crumbs”. “A stone for Bessie Smith” is the remarkable story of Janis Joplin’s purchase of a stone for the unmarked grave of the “greatest blues singer that ever lived” Bessie Smith, a few short months before her own sudden early death. 

Mythical Kings deserves to be up there with Joni’s “Blue”, or Carole King’s “Tapestry”. Her work was a reflection of the liberation politics of the early seventies but it stands the test of time as a unique piece of recorded music.

Dory died this year. A tiny part of my teenage self loved this woman after years of listening to Mythical Kings with the solitude of an old Sony walkman. Do not grief her passing, for as Dory says on the track that formed the album name “Sure that everything of worth is in the sky and not in the earth”. Do not grief but remember her name. Re-issue this album.

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