NEWS just in this week is that Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot were despicable people. Not only that but, according to a just published biography, each one of them seemed cruel, callous and thirsty for dominion. What, you may ask, does this have to do with the day-to-day shenanigans of rock ’n’ roll that tend to fill this column every Saturday? Not very much, as it turns out; other than that these startling revelations come not from this year’s edition of Tyrants for Dummies but from the latest book on those fun-loving world-dominating English folkies Mumford & Sons. (the sequel is to be called The Rise and Fall . . ., possibly) is a fascinating and entertaining introduction to the minds at work behind the band’s success, although not, one suspects, in the way author Chloe Govan intended. Govan, whose previous books include
and, somewhat strangely, a study of Perry’s former squeeze called
leaves no stone unturned and in no uncertain terms free of cliche cuts to the heart of what has made the cuddly Mummies boys such a runaway phenomenon the world over. She is particularly fascinated by frontman and songwriter Marcus Mumford and his grapple with God, her musings on which take up a whole chapter called The Great Depression. Indeed Mumford’s lyrics and those of his colleagues, particularly those ones with subliminal or even obtuse messages, references or influences relating to Him or Her, appear to have had a diarrhoeic affect on the writer. She devotes pages to the breakdown of songs such as
and (that’s one of the obtuse ones) and how they reflect Mumford’s conflicting thoughts on religion. This allows her to fill paragraphs with her own retelling of some of the Bible’s highlights. Best of all, though, are Govan’s leaps into what she believes are the inner workings of Mumford’s brain on all of this. He has come to question God, she reveals, after reading John Steinbeck’s and Dee Brown’s profound influence Brown’s tale of Native American suffering had on Mumford, revealed in his blog, prompts Govan to fill in a few gaps in historical background, which is where Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot come in; but she’s not done. ‘‘Did this mean,’’ she wonders on behalf of her troubled subject, Mumford, ‘‘that evil was a
The stronger force than good — and that God was weaker than the Devil?’’ SD doesn’t have the answer to that one yet, but perhaps when the Mumfords get here in July for Splendour in the Grass they will be able to shed some light on the matter. is published by Omnibus Press and the recommended price is $27.99. AUSSIE rock neo-veterans You Am I are limbering up for a national tour beginning next month that is selling fast. The hook for this romp across Australia is the re-release of the group’s first three albums, and
The band’s singer, Tim Rogers, has more than that going on. He’s about to host a new television music show,
the Memo being an old dance hall in Melbourne’s St Kilda. Among his first interview subjects are Kate Miller-Heidke, Tex Perkins and Bernard Fanning, the last of whom will be talking about his new solo album The show starts on July 16 on Foxtel’s Studio channel.
Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons