Brickhouse Records. Grays. Thurrock. The World.

Brickhouse

Here it is. Here is the place that started it all for me. This picture is the inside of Brickhouse Records. To give you an idea of scale the Photographer is standing in the doorway. It was tiny but it was the place where new galaxies opened up and horizons stretched far and wide. It was my library, my map of the world and this was my home. Brickhouse Records in Grays, Essex. I wasn’t really into music at all and a late developer when it came to all things records. Whilst peers were succumbing to the lure of popular teenage culture I was playing computer games. My pocket money was spent on Sega Mega Carts not records or the frivolous fashions of early adolescence. I didn’t want to be cool I wanted to complete Phantasy Zone. In my mind music and clothes were the tacky, irrelevant side effects of growing up and I planned to circumvent that whole scene until I was ready. In my musical development this was a big mistake but an easy one to make considering that the only music I was exposed to was via Top Of The Pops. Pop Music. Mel and Kim. Stock Aitken and Waterman. Failing that the ‘rebellious’ kids were into Iron Maiden. Rock. It hurt my ears. Literally. So it was either a ‘pop’ or a ‘rock’ 7” from Our Price Records or Contact Sam Cruise for my Spectrum from Basildon Market.

I used to observe the kids that grew up too fast and spent all their money on jeans and haircuts with pity. They seemed to surrender the wonders of youth too quickly and were more concerned with practicalities of life rather than reveling in the wonder and naivety of a youthful mind. I associated music with this process and my views stayed that way until I actually found something I could get my teeth into. Dance Music.

I was lucky. I was a child of the 80’s and as such was young enough to be there when Acid House was in its infancy. The downside was that we were at school and too young to fully grasp the nuances (drugs natch) of this counterculture that shock the establishment, for a short while at least, and sounded nothing like boring rock and roll. M/A/R/R/S, S-Express, Black Box were the bastard, mainstream, children of that whole movement and took over the charts and my imagination after the, ultimately futile pastime of video games began to wane and I began to mature further. Back then record shops were in abundance in any town center anywhere in the UK but they all sold mainstream records – all the best dance record shops were in London with only a tiny section of ‘dance’ records in some of the more left field record shops in the borough where I lived. But lo, there was hope. There was an oasis. Word got to me when I heard 3 Feet High and Rising for the first time. My mind blown by this record (never to be the same again) I wanted a copy and I was told that Brickhouse had some – Brickhouse Records in Grays. I had never heard of it however few Saturdays later I went with friends to see what all the fuss was about. Inside the door was the portal to distant lands. The picture above is exactly what it was like. Piles and piles of records stacked to ceiling with spotty teenagers trying to sift through the vast selections on offer the whole time our minds being blown to tiny bits by throbbing baselines of house music and late 80’s US rap. To stand in Brickhouse for a few hours on a Saturday was to hear the best music in the world at that time. EPMD, A Guy Called Gerald, Public Enemy, Rhythim is Rhythim, Cold Chillin’, Kariya all at ear splitting volumes, all fresh off the truck and mostly from America. This shop was glitch. It didn’t have to be there, it shouldn’t have been there but it was, tucked away in the middle of nowhere next to garage and on the end of a run of terraced houses. In Grays. In the summer people would spill outside. It was more than just a shop.

Brickhouse was run by one guy, Lloyd an oldish (at the time) chap who had obviously been around a bit. He is the one behind the counter in the above picture (no idea who the dude in the foreground is) – I never found out his surname and we never spoke much because I was too shy. I used to go in silently, sift through the racks, pay for a few records and go home. I still have all the records from those days and I can recall where they were in the shop and how much I paid for them. Some bad ones but mostly all of them are still loved to this very day. Right place right time. In the middle of the shop, under a mountain of ever growing new arrivals were the old funk and jazz records that must have been there years. I think this was Lloyd’s heart and soul and I don’t think he liked any of the rap and house he sold but means must and it was his record shop so he had to give the people what they wanted. I was young so didn’t know or appreciate the vast catalogue Lloyd had buried under there but I managed over the years to buy some Ron Carter, Miles Davis and Funkadelic records. I also got all my Ultimate Break and Beats from there and all my golden era imports and I listened. I listened to funk and jazz as well as rap and dance. I educated myself. I listened to other people’s records that they asked Lloyd top play. I listened to my own. I spent hours and weeks and years going through each rack and trying to read each word and line on each sleeve be it reggae, dub, jazz, funk, hip hop, house. All the records had a story. The good thing is Lloyd didn’t mind me hanging around for hours and hours and purchasing just one or two records as I think he liked the company and I am certain that I was one of his most loyal customers even though we didn’t talk.

As time wore on I found other shops that stocked even better selections of Hip Hop (which was now my passion) such as Soul Man in Westcliff or I used to travel up to Soho to get even fresher stock. These shops had a more sterile atmosphere but there was a better selection and the records were not all crammed into in tiny rack that happened so often at Brickhouse. However none of this can detract from the greatest record shop know to man in the middle of nowhere and with the best atmosphere in the world. Looking at Google Earth Brickhouse Records is now a grocery store and the inevitable closure of another record shop has long since occurred possibly before I left the UK. In a way I am glad. I know all the decent stock would have been snapped up years ago. I also know by going back it wouldn’t be as good as it was and the times I know will be persevered in my mind for ever.

Thank you Lloyd, thank you for your shop and the happy accident that bought you to Bridge Road in Grays, Thurrock. Damn that DJ made my day.

12 Responses to “Brickhouse Records. Grays. Thurrock. The World.”

  1. Jingjok says:

    This post has been getting a lot of hits from people searching for info about Brickhouse. If anyone knows the full story please leave a comment.

  2. Alan says:

    Thanks for posting this story about Brickhouse Records. I lived in Grays for several years and spent many Saturdays browsing through Lloyd’s collections and asking Llloyd to play selections from his music on display. I thank Lloyd for helping expand my music horizons along with Robbie Vincent from Radio London, my brother David who introduced me to Blood Sweat and Tears and Chicago and Boz Scaggs at an early age. I am struggling to remember the name of the band that Lloys was a singer with, but they were very good, playing Average White Band, Spyrogyra and other sophisticated music very well. Brickhouse Records was in Bridge Road Grays opposite the top of Cramaville Street (I think) which lead down to Grays town centre.

  3. Steve says:

    Wow! Reads like I wrote this post, just replace Hip Hop with Jazz Funk. Much of my record collection was built thanks to Lloyd – a top bloke with a real passion for proper music. He sorted me with a pile of Donald Byrd albums back in the day and I still think of Brickhouse Records when I play them now. Being exiled on the south coast (in Brighton) now I wonder what happened to Lloyd and that great little gem of a shop. I may take my kids to Grays one day to show them where dads music came from.

    Lloyd used to tell me how his business really took off in the ‘Rare Groove’ days of the mid 80′s. He used to tell me how the front windows of the shop were loaded with all the great album from Funk Inc, Roy Ayers, and Jean Carn etc. I remember one occasion on a hot sunny Saturday morning he introduced me to the classic ‘Don’t let it go to your head’ song still gives me tingles today.

    Last time I saw Lloyd it was in John Menzies in Grays town centre, shortly before I moved away. I hope Lloyd is still out there somewhere bringing real music to the next generation of ravers and movers.

  4. jodie blackmore (saward) says:

    Can’t tell you how choked i got reading this article. Lloyd saward is well and still living in grays. The shop closed many years ago and is now a grocery corner shop. Dad can be seen doing the night shift driving a taxi 6 nights a week. Although does carry around various cd’s so he’s always got the right tunes for whoeverets in the cab. The band had various names over the years ianlloyd blue
    s band, freeride, new shooz, ginger Marx being the most recent with Colin, gLynn, mickey, clive and Dave.

  5. jodie blackmore (saward) says:

    Can’t tell you how choked i got reading this article. Lloyd saward is well and still living in grays. The shop closed many years ago and is now a grocery corner shop. Dad can be seen doing the night shift driving a taxi 6 nights a week. Although does carry around various cd’s so he’s always got the right tunes for whoeverets in the cab. The band had various names over the years ianlloyd blues band freeride, new shooz, ginger Marx being the most recent with Colin, glynn, mick,clive and dave.

  6. Paul says:

    The name of Lloyd’s band, or one of the one of several incarnations and the one I recall, was Plan B.

  7. Lloyd fronted Freeride before plan B guitar was clive grant tall blonde guy mr GibsonL6 S HE KNEW ALL THE JAZZ LICKS!!
    KEYS AND SAX WAS terry Downs, who sadly is longer with us Colin harding my cousin was drummer with Llloyd for many years saw them down at the castle main pub in Basildon and the anchor Tilbury yep and scruttons club tilbury we all did those gigs , green club in Grays.
    seems a long time ago now

  8. jodie blackmore says:

    Having a 70th surprise Bday for Dad and tring to get hold of all the old faces. please contact for details. when you mentioned Terry downs did you mean Terry Dowman? as he is still with us.

  9. Vic says:

    To say thanks for putting this up is an understatement
    The brick house Lloyd
    His shop with a small selection of others
    Make me the person I am today every choice I make in life involves music
    I would not be as happy as I am today going through hard times
    Without such influences like the brick house
    A pleasure xxx

  10. Matthew V says:

    Hi all,

    I can only echo all the comments above. I lived in Bradleigh Avenue so Bridge Road was a simple (but expensive!) detour from the my walk from the station.

    So many good tunes, Lloyd knew every genre inside out and knew what you were looking good even if you didn’t! I have most of the Strictly Rhythm releases (looking at them now), Italian house imports, white labels etc all courtesy of that great shop, a place with none of the elitist attitude of some of the London shops at the time.

    I now DJ on an internet radio station, MTCRADIO.CO.UK, and much of what I play is from that shop – treasured records! When friends say how did I amass such a collection I have to say in part due to Brickhouse Records.

    Hope Lloyd is still well. Keep the faith.

  11. Tony Brown says:

    What can I say. I visited this shop what seemed like every Saturday from the early eighties. I picked up my first Blue Note albums from here – Lee Morgan – The Sidewinder, Horace Silver – Song For My Father and many more. Disco, funk and jazz by the crate loads and Lloyd got me my prize possession – Black Whip – Ivan Boogaloo Joe Jones. Very happy days.

  12. m1 says:

    big up. best ever record shop i went too. big up lloyd.

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