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The Settlers (band)

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The Settlers (band)

This article is about the British instrumental/vocal group of the 1960s/70s. For other uses, see Settler (disambiguation).

The Settlers were a folk-oriented group from the English West Midlands,[1] who formed in the mid-1960s. They started out as a trio comprising Cindy Kent (vocals and tambourine; 7 August 1945, West Bromwich[2]), Mike Jones (vocals and guitar; born Michael Edwin Jones, 16 September 1943 – 11 May 2008) [3] and John Fyffe (banjo; born 3 July 1943), but added a bassist, Mansel Davies.

Formation and genre

The Settlers were initially known as the Birmingham Folk Four, but became known as the Settlers after their first single, "Settle Down".[4] A six-month residency on the BBC television series, Singalong, led to support bookings on tours with, among others, Dusty Springfield, Roy Orbison and The Small Faces.[5] The Settlers have generally been referred to as a folk group. However, like the Seekers, the successful Australian group with which they shared marked similarities,[6] some of their material gravitated towards mainstream pop, which, taking its cue from American singer-songwriters Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and such groups as Peter, Paul and Mary, We Five and The Byrds, readily absorbed folk influences in various ways in the mid-1960s. The Settlers’ melodic style[7] was largely settled before the advent of British folk-rock in the guise of Fairport Convention and Pentangle later in the sixties.

Musical output

The Settlers' first single "Sassafras"/"Settle Down", was released in 1964. They became quite well known nationally, assisted by frequent appearances on television and, until 1967, regular exposure on offshore pirate radio stations. In particular, their recording of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s "Nowhere Man" (1965) was, together with The Overlanders’ 1966 UK No.1 hit, "Michelle", and The Truth’s version of "Girl", among the best known covers of songs from the Beatles' album, Rubber Soul (1965). However, although "Nowhere Man" reached a high of No.5 in Radio London's non-sales based Fab 40 in March 1966 [8] and the group's spirited version of Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain" received a good deal of airplay in May 1966 ,[9] the Settlers did not succeed in enjoying a Top 40 hit during the 1960s. Their most successful record, "The Lightning Tree" (helped along due to its use as the theme tune of the British TV series Follyfoot), reached No.36 in the UK singles chart in 1971.[10] Like the Seekers, the group also included a double bassist. The original bassist, Mansel Davies, left in 1965 to pursue a career in teaching, and was replaced by Geoffrey Srodzinski, who shared accommodation in Hampstead, London, with Tony Hooper of Strawbs. Hooper's song, "Always on My Mind", was released as a single by the Settlers early in 1967.[11]

After Cindy Kent left the band, the line up changed from acoustic four-part pop folk harmony, to a more contemporary five-piece electric sound with Mike Jones (guitar/banjo/vocals), Andie Sheridan (female vocals),Paul Greedus (guitar/vocals), Chris Johnstone (bass/vocals) and George Jeffrey on drums. In 1974 this line up recorded an album for York Records - "The New Sound of the Settlers".

In early 1976 Valery Ann replaced Andie Sheridan as female vocalist, and the line up changed back to four piece acoustic close harmony with Mike Jones (guitar/banjo/fiddle/vocals), Paul Greedus (bass/vocals/occasional piano*),Valery Ann (vocals/tambourine/occasional guitar*),Steve Smith (vocals/guitar). It was this line up that went into the studios to record "Whichaway Billy" for Riverdale. The single was released in October 1976 soon after Valery Ann left the band to pursue a solo career.

  • Plaisir d'amour" - Valery Ann's original version "My Love Loves Me" was released on Decca in 1965 while she was still at school in Surrey.

Albums

The Settlers' albums included their debut Sing Out for Decca Records in the UK, and London Records in the U.S. (1964), which featured an eclectically varied selection of folk songs, including "The Keeper", "Over the Stone", "The Three Jolly Rouges of Lynn" and "The Golden Vanity", Ewan MacColl's "Dirty Old Town" and "Shoals of Herring", Matt McGinn's "Coorie Doon", and "Frog Went A-Courtin'"

Whereas Go!, (Pye Records, 1966) paired the group with The Overlanders both separately and together. The eponymous The Settlers, for (Island Records, 1967) included Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Mr Tambourine Man" and such folk standards as "The Wreck of the Old 97". Call Again for (Marble Arch Records, 1968) collected the group's singles output for Pye Records, and was released after they had left that record label.

Settlers Alive for (Columbia Records, 1969) was recorded live at Queen Elizabeth Hall, whilst Sing a New Song (Myrrh, 1972), had a strongly religious component. Lightning Tree (York, 1972), which, in addition to the title hit, included extracts, spoken by Cindy Kent, from Martin Luther King’s famous I Have a Dream speech of 1963. Lightning Tree was re-released by Decca in 1974 as The World of the Settlers.

Cindy Kent

As has often been the case with sole female members of bands, Cindy Kent (like Judith Durham of the Seekers) attracted her own share of attention. No doubt this was due in part to her fine singing voice, photogenic good looks, and tendency to wear mini-skirts. But her public espousal of Christianity brought her into contact with the singer Cliff Richard, a prominent born again Christian, and they both contributed to various events with a Christian theme.

Kent worked at Radio 4, Radio 2, and Radio 1 (in that order), and later became a broadcaster on London’s first legal commercial radio stations, LBC and Capital Radio, as well as Sheffield’s Radio Hallam,[12] and in 1995 was the first presenter recruited to the team for Premier Christian Radio,[13] for whom she still works as a broadcaster. She describes herself as a high church or catholic Anglican Christian. In 2005 she was admitted as a Reader in the Church of England; on 30 June 2007 she was ordained as a deacon; the following year (2008) she was ordained as a priest, and she works part-time in a north London parish.[14]

Notes

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