Dory Previn – R.I.P   Leave a comment

Dory Previn

It was with great sadness that I learned (only yesterday) of Dory Previn’s death on Valentine’s Day 2012, aged 86. Dory is a very important part of the Female Singer-Songwriter brigade, appearing at the same time as Carole, Carly and Joni had also come to prominence (or perhaps because of), which enables us to mention her in the same breath, although in so many ways she was a one-off.

I remember back in 1988 when there was a surge of Female Singer-Songwriters (eg Tanita Tikaram, Julia Fordham),Q magazine ran an article about them, but also referencing back to some from the 70’s such as Judee Sill and, Dory.

I didn’t know any Dory music, nowadays I could have sampled something on Amazon or maybe on YouTube, but not then, so I had to take a chance. I found a second hand LP copy of Mythical Kings And Iguana’s which I think was a re-release as it had no lyrics – I did not know what to expect, but was very surprised, not only at the depth of the lyric writing and the song arrangement – but also perhaps because of that – that she was not much more widely known.

Mythical Kings is her finest album without doubt, it was her second, and she would produce 4 more and one live recording. All of these are available on CD, although the last one appears to have been mixed at the wrong speed. The first 4 LP’s are packaged as “Two-fers” but there is a very good compilation covering these.

So – what does she sound like ?

The voice is not particularly beautiful in a Joni Mitchell sense or strong, but when combined with her lyrics form a potent mix on her best songs. The only criticism I would make is that it does occasionally strain on the higher notes on some of her latter albums. The lyrics are sometimes very witty and ironic, incredibly descriptive and observational, often tackling subjects that no-one else ever would or has eg. male impotence, midgets – but don’t let that put you off.

If you don’t know anything by her – be sure to go and check her out.


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