The Clash: Given’em Enough Rope – [Record 57]
Give ‘Em Enough Rope is the second studio album by the English punk rock band The Clash. It was released on 10 November 1978 through CBS Records. It was their first album released in the United States, preceding the US version of The Clash. The album was well received by critics and fans, peaking at number two in the United Kingdom Albums Chart, and number 128 in the Billboard 200.
1. Safe European Home
2. English Civil War.
3. Tommy Gun.
4. Julie’s Been Working for the Drug Squad.
5. Last Gang in Town.
1. Guns on the Roof.
2. Drug-Stabbing Time.
3. Stay Free.
5. All the Young Punks.
Album information: The album was voted album of the year for 1978 by Rolling Stone and Time magazines, as well as the popular UK music weekly Sounds which gave it a glowing review upon release, with writer Dave McCullough calling it “swash-buckled heavy-metal” and claiming it to be “The best LP since the last Clash LP, both, I personally feel, transcending anything ever recorded”. Reviewing the album for Rolling Stone in January 1979, Greil Marcus called it “a rocker’s assault on the real world in the grand tradition of Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed and Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.“
The cover was designed by Gene Greif, the front of which was based on a postcard titled “End of the Trail”, photographed by Adrian Atwater and featuring Wallace Irving Robertson.
The cover of the first US pressings showed the band’s name written in block capital letters. Subsequent US pressings used a faux-oriental style font, which was then replaced with the more ornate faux-oriental style font used on the UK release.
The original American issue of the album also retitled “All the Young Punks” as “That’s No Way to Spend Your Youth”. This was revised on later editions.
“Tommy Gun” and “English Civil War” were released as the album’s singles, either side of Christmas 1978. They entered the UK charts at numbers 19 and 25, respectively.
Though the opening track of the album’s B-side, “Guns on the Roof” is ostensibly about global terrorism, war and corruption, it was partly inspired by an incident that resulted in the Metropolitan Police’s armed anti-terrorist squad raiding The Clash’s Camden Market base. Paul Simonon and Topper Headon were arrested and charged with criminal damage (and later fined £750) for shooting racing pigeons with an air-gun from the roof of their rehearsal building.
The band’s style of including contemporary subjects in their lyrics was continued on the album; “Tommy Gun” deals Middle Eastern terrorism, specifically the hi-jacking of aircraft, while “Julie’s Been Working for the Drug Squad” is a commentary on the infamous “Operation Julie” drug bust that saw the largest LSD production ring in the world, based in Wales, dismantled by an undercover police operation. The song also makes a reference to The Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” in the opening line, “It’s Lucy in the sky and all kinds of apple pie.” “Julie’s Been Working for the Drug Squad” was originally titled “Julie’s in the Drug Squad”, as listed on the original pressing of the album. The song’s title was changed when Give ‘Em Enough Rope was released on CD.
During recording of the album, Joe Strummer’s trademark Telecaster guitar needed to be taken in for repairs, so he played a hired semi-acoustic Gibson ES-345 for most of the sessions.
Sandy Pearlman, who produced the original album, was not a big fan of Joe Strummer’s voice, to the point that he ensured the drums were mixed louder than the lead singer’s vocals on the entire album.
The album was originally titled “Rent-A-Riot”.
Other songs recorded during the sessions was the single “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais”, as well as b-sides “Pressure Drop”, “1-2 Crush on You” and “The Prisoner”. Four more songs were recorded: “One Emotion”, “Groovy Times”, “Ooh Baby Ooh (It’s Not Over)” (AKA “Rusted Chrome”, later reworked and released as “Gates of the West”) and “RAF 1810”.
The back of the original pressing lists the songs in an entirely different sequence as follows:
“Safe European Home”
“English Civil War”
“Guns on the Roof”
“Julie’s in the Drug Squad”
“Last Gang in Town”
“All the Young Punks (New Boots and Contracts)”