Author Archives: Craig Hamilton – Homepage of Friends of the Stars

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Podcast Alley – Required Post

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LA Designers, Bulgarian Scientists and Friends of The Stars…

Here is the front cover of the soon-to-be released album “Lighting and Electrical”.

Ain’t it purdy?

(You can click here to see it in it’s full glory!)

The artwork was designed by long time friend of the band Olivia Mole. Over the years, Olivia has offered support and encouragement to our dysfunctional musical unit and, before leaving the UK, was often to be found at our London shows.

We were really happy when she agreed to handle the artwork for us. She’s a talented lady, and as you’ll see in due course, really good at drawing and colouring in.

That said, she made us all feel really stupid when she emailed us the details of her motives and thoughts in choosing this subject as her inspiration. Frankly, it was way too clever for us.

Anyway, she now lives in sunny Los Angeles, California and based her designs and ideas around the concept of ‘Ball Lightning‘. As part of her research into the subject she befriended (via the interweb) a Bulgarian scientist by the name of Dr Kiril Chukanov.

(I’m not making this up, by the way)

Dr Chukanov has devoted his considerable brain power to designing and building machines that create your actual Ball Lightning under laboratory conditions. Some of his machines also feature in the CD artwork.

Dr Chukanov is also someone who clearly operates on a much higher intellectual level than us:

“The quantum macro-object (ball lightning) possesses unusual electrical features and energy possibilities. Where does this enormous energy come from? The correct answer is: from nowhere”

Mmmm. Yes.


We’d like to thank Dr Chukanov for his assistance and we’ll be sending a copy of the record to Bulgaria just as soon as it comes back from the record making factory…

Naturally, our big, big thanks also go to Olivia. Several copies of the record will also be on the way to California.

The rest of you will just have to steal it from Russian websites buy it.

The Thoughts Of Executive Producer Robson

Executive Prodcuer Robson explains here for the first time the methods, philosophy and madness by which he oversaw the creation of the “Lighting & Electrical” album:


Clock face…

Imagine the entirety of recorded time was compressed into a day… it would still take three weeks to record
an album.

Stop imagining that and understand that time takes ages; it’s also a confusing and annoying beast that
can out-run a speeding bullet yet move so slowly you think it’s a thing of some kind that doesn’t move at all.

What I am trying to say is that time has passed and an album has been made, and I think it’s a good time to
‘go to the balcony and look down on what happened’.

My role as ‘Executive Producer’ has been varied over the ‘three weeks’ that “Lighting and Electrical” has been in the making. Often I would contribute nothing more than drunkenly shouting, ‘I like those guitars’ or ‘he’s got a nice voice/ arse’ or even ‘Where the FECK! are the rizlas!? If I have to ask ONE MORE TIME I am going to take your shiny new microphone and chuck it in the bleedin’ road!’.

Once, in the spirit creativity, I ‘fell asleep’ in the Spotted Dog public house and was ‘asked’ to leave.

On other occasions I have been involved in the very cauldron of musical creation, (‘don’t fade it out, dude, stop it dead in it’s tracks…’ ) and having no comments what so ever on the drumming on track four. We even recorded some hilarious podcast gold that may one day see the light of day.

I would listen to demo tapes (they aren’t really demo tapes any more, its all memory cards and floppy disks and blank CDS, but you get what I mean) and make noises to indicate my like/dislike or general confusion.

Please note, I am not suggesting for one minute that anyone was listening.

I escorted the band to the Moseley Folk Festival and had a Top Time. Really, it was brilliant and only
rained the whole time we were there.

I have watched The ‘Stars play in many a dark and smelly room.

I have also prevented Craigy from dieing on no less than 17 occasions.

Unlike a demo tape or even roughshod copy on a blank CD, life hasn’t got a pause button, man…. it goes on even when we would rather it didn’t – When we would rather jack it all in and ride the back roads so we don’t get weighed. Sometimes, it gets in the way of other things like recording albums or going to watch
the football.

We now come to the very breaking point of the wave that is “Lighting and Electrical”. I have had a copy of it for ages (I am SO cool), and as requested I haven’t put it on the Internet…probably.

I have listened to the album a number of times and it has a place on my ipod. I like to play “Dragonfly” in the morning, burning up the copper by the mile…

So, this album is good, its been bloody ages in the making and if you have any sense AT ALL you’ll at the very least listen to it, even if just to say you don’t like it… which if you don’t, then you should
because its good. See?

Time means nothing, we can smell the trees, listen to the album….

Moon face…

Friends of the Stars: Down with the Kids (and a dog)

Here were are playing “Riverdigger” at the Moseley Folk Festival in September 2006.

Reunions Ain’t What They Used To Be – A Cautionary Tale

Poor old Tony Mortimer. If last night’s East 17 – The Reunion (Channel 4)  is anything to go by, he appears to have completely lost the plot.

Hot on the heels of the recent Take That reunion, and in an entirely unrelated move, Mortimer claimed in the programme to have been told by his medium (!!!) that East17 should reform. Not only that, Tony was seen actively hawking the newly-reformed unit around the devil-may-care risk takers employed by the various Major Labels of That London.

Take That’s reunion (initially scoffed at by all and sundry) yielded Gary Barlow, Little Mark Owen, Howard and Jason a sell-out UK tour, a number one album, 2 hit singles (including the ELO-tastic “Shine”) and a place back at the big lads’ table of Pop. Barlow has spent the months since striding around his Cheshire mansion giggling maniacally. Good for him.

Back in Essex, it seemed all Tony had to do was to get Brian Harvey, along with bandmates Terry and John, to toe the line for a few months and a similar renaissance would surely come to pass.

As you’ll no doubt remember from your history lessons at school, East 17 were an inexplicably popular group in the early-mid 1990s and had 12 (Twelve!) UK chart hits. With their proto-Max Power look and ‘street’ attitude they played the role of bad boy Stones to Take That’s cutesy Beatles, before both were eventually banished from Pop! by Girl Power, Cool Britannia and New Labour. Personally speaking, their place in the pop canon was firmly secured by the most unintentionally hilarious video of all time – the promo for their 1993 Xmas number one single “Stay (Another Day)”.

Anyway, getting Terry and John to toe the reformation line would surely be a doddle for our Tony. John (the only one to come out of the programme with any dignity, it should be said) had gamely returned to his day job as a roofer and merely saw the whole thing as an additional way of paying the mortgage. Meanwhile, monosyllabic Terry had returned to his previous occupation of hanging around shopping centres, spitting in the street and scaring elderly folk with his dangerous dog. Terry is in his mid-thirties. 

Terry and John would be putty in Tony’s hand. The problem, of course, would be the ridiculous Brian Harvey.

See, Tony was the only talented member of a band so bad it almost defies belief. He wrote the tunes and pulled the strings yet it was Harvey who became the star. This rankled at the time, and clearly rankles still.

Mortimer has spent the intervening years “investing in property”, collecting his royalties and generally keeping his head down at his Essex mansion. Harvey, on the other hand, has never been far from the headlines and is every inch the epitome of the modern celebrity divvy.

He punches photographers outside nightclubs, appears in “My Drug Hell” exposés in the News of the World, cavorts with his semi-famous former model girlfriend and, naturally, has appeared on Reality TV. Hell, Brian even made the headlines in 2005 when he somehow contrived to achieve the impossible; getting himself run over by a car that he was actually driving at the time of the accident.

Still, East 17 were a very popular group and, as Take That have proved, there is clearly a market for this sort of thing. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, just about everything…and quickly.

All had started so well for the reformation project, too. The lads were getting on, rehearsals were peachy and when Tony bank-rolled a one-off London show it completely sold out and was well received. So far, so proof-of-concept.

Next, Tony set up a meeting with Warner Bros and a record deal was in the offing. At this stage it was all looking really good and the gang was riding again!

Then we heard the inevitable news that Brian had managed to scupper everything. Brian showed up over an hour late for the label meeting and Tony did what everyone else in the country would love to do and punched Harvey on the nose. All bets were off, Brian resigned, Tony resigned. End of reunion.

The programme finished with a forlorn looking Tony playing pool on his own and stubbornly stating that they couldn’t do it without him and that they would do it his way in the end. He looked lost.

Meanwhile, in a God-forsaken Essex nightclub Brian, with Terry and John in tow, mimed along to their hits (played on Brian’s iPod) to a crowd of baying women ripped to the tits on alcopops. For this they received £300 and considered it a result.

Pop is fickle, innit