Thursday, 21 July 2016

My Top Ten Songs For Bricklayers

This week, following on from previous trade-related Top Tens including My Top Ten Carpentry Songs and My Top Ten Songs For Electricians, we're giving a shout out to all the brickies out there.

Special mentions to Brick (above), Edie Brickell, L7's album Bricks Are Heavy and Kate Nash's album Made of Bricks. Extra special mention to the one that got away (because it was too damned loud even for me, Bob!): Bricklayer by Hüsker Dü. Don't listen to that one with headphones on.

10. Pink Floyd - Another Brick In The Wall

Sometimes you just have to start with the obvious choice.

But Pink Floyd, man... why don't I get Pink Floyd?

I mean, I listen to this and, of course, it's a classic of its age and reminds me very much of the days when it was being played heavily on the radio. And I like the message behind it, I like the bassline, I like the guitar... they even make the children's choir work, which is a rarity in rock songs.

Still, despite all that, and despite numerous attempts to get into their back catalogue, the Floyd have never quite made their mark on me. Perhaps I need a little education... or at the very least, a little thought control.

9.  Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick

And if that wasn't enough proggy-concept weirdness for one Top Ten, here's Ian Anderson with (possibly, not definitely) the longest track I've ever featured here... all 44 crazy minutes of Tull's flute-tastic "satire" of concept albums, only one track (split over two sides on the original LP but edited together later)... but that's the point, man.

I have to confess, I was only familiar with the 3 1/2 minute edit from Tull's Greatest Hits album till today, but in the interests of completeness, I have dedicated myself to listening to the whole thing while I type this post. And it's actually quite groovy. Which only goes to prove...

I. Am. Getting. Old.

8. Iggy Pop - Brick By Brick

On the other hand, Iggy is someone I have more and more time for the older I get. This is pretty late era Iggy in that it's only from 26 years ago, but while more focus is given to his 70s heyday, there are real gems in his 80s and 90s work too... hell, that new album produced by Josh Homme earlier in the year sounded pretty cool too. 

7. The Jam - Bricks And Mortar

You know I love The Jam, but occasionally Weller chucks subtlety out the window and crosses the line between Angry Young Man and Whinging Old Git. He even kicks off this track from the debut Jam album by telling us (not showing us) what the song's going to be about ("Bricks and mortar, reflecting social change") before wittering on like an Our Price Victor Meldrew about them knocking down houses to build car parks "while hundreds are homeless". Hardly Joni Mitchell, Paul.

What I like best about Bricks & Mortar though is the second verse...
Why do they have to knock them down
And leave the site dormant for months on end?
Who has the right to make that choice?
A man whose home has cost forty grand!
Those rich bastards in their forty grand mansions - you stick it to 'em, Weller!

Different times.

See also Bricks & Mortar by The Editors. Not too shabby, but Wittering Weller Wins It.

6. The Commodores - Brick House

Lionel Ritchie takes a back seat while Commodores drummer Walter "Clyde" Orange brings the vocal funk to this single from the band's 1977 debut album.
The clothes she wears, her sexy ways
Make an old man wish for younger days, yeah, yeah
She knows she's built and knows how to please
Sure enough to knock a strong man to his knees
Shamelessly sexist lyrics, you might think - although they were actually written by a woman, Shirley Hanna-King, the wife of founding Commodore William King. So perhaps you might see this as a female empowerment anthem... or at the very least another in the long line of records praising Plus Size Ladies (there's got to be a Top Ten in that). The title is a radio friendly version of the expression Placebo used in full on this cool tune from their 1998 album Without You, I'm Nothing.

5. Feeder - Cement

Early Feeder single from 1997, but just as hook-laden and with as huge a singalong-a-chorus as their later hits. Just great, nothing else to say. 

4. Kasey Chambers - Barricades & Brickwalls

Kasey Chambers has a sound reminiscent of a lot of young contemporary Country heroines (think Kacey Musgraves or Taylor Swift before she went pop and shacked up with Loki). But she's actually Australian and a little longer in the tooth than the aforementioned ladies: this is from her second album, released in 2001, back when I dug her a lot. I've not heard any of her more recent efforts: really must try harder.

3. The Atomic Fireballs - Hit By A Brick

Jazzy, finger-snapping goodness from an American swing band who released only two albums in the late 90s... though they sound like they come from 50 years before that.

2. Mull Historical Society - Build Another Brick

I've been listening to the new Mull Historical Society record a lot lately and I can't get the opening track out of my head.  It's Colin MacIntyre's 7th album release since MHS's 2001 debut Loss (although a couple were released under his own name) and it continues his winning streak when it comes to writing catchy alternative pop songs. People bang on about the state of the music industry and there's no denying it would be good to see MacIntyre become a household name, but it's still reassuring that an artist like this can maintain a career in today's pop quagmire, even if it has to be largely under his own steam... he's even branched out into novel writing now as well!

1. Ben Folds - Brick

When it was released in 1997, Brick was unlike any other record Ben Folds had recorded to that point. He'd made a name for himself with cheeky, uptempo piano-stomping tunes that sounded like Jerry Lee Lewis gone indie. And this was a straightforward ballad that became a crossover hit and had his fanbase crying "sell out" at the same time. Although perhaps not too loudly once they listened to the lyrics...

Brick is a song about abortion: but weirdly neither pro- or anti-abortion, it just tells a story from the perspective of a young couple who've been through it... as Folds and his high school girlfriend did years earlier. Nothing to do with bricklaying then, but I make the rules up as I go along and may the best songs win...

Off the top of your hod... which one would be your favourite?


  1. I got rid of that Kasey Chambers album very recently :(

    1. How do you get rid of an album these days? I mean, even if you give the physical copy to a charity shop (no use flogging owt on eBay these days), the digital copy still exists on your computer...doesn't it? Or did you delete that too in some crazy, revisionist "Kasey is dead to me!" strop? What did she do?

  2. I recently acquired Kasey's Wayward Angel from a charity shop recently
    As good as her first two

  3. Apropos of songs for bricklayers, there's "Unhalfbricking" was the third album released by Fairport Convention. But there's no songs about bricks on it.

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