Give 'Em Enough Rope

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Give 'Em Enough Rope
The Clash - Give 'Em Enough Rope.jpg
Studio album by The Clash
Released 10 November 1978 (1978-11-10)
Recorded March–April 1978, Basing Street Studios, London; and August–September 1978 at The Automatt, San Francisco
Genre Punk rock
Length 36:57
Label CBS, Epic
Producer Sandy Pearlman
The Clash chronology
The Clash
Give 'Em Enough Rope
London Calling
Singles from Give 'Em Enough Rope
  1. "Tommy Gun"
    Released: 24 November 1978 (1978-11-24)
  2. "English Civil War"
    Released: 23 February 1979 (1979-02-23)

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,[1][2] and number 128 in the Billboard 200.[3][4]

Album information[edit]

Give 'Em Enough Rope 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 side two, "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 continued to include contemporary subjects in their lyrics on the album; "Tommy Gun" deals with 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.[5]

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.[6]

The album had a working title of "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:

  1. "Safe European Home"
  2. "English Civil War"
  3. "Tommy Gun"
  4. "Cheapskate"
  5. "Drug-Stabbing Time"
  6. "Guns on the Roof"
  7. "Stay Free"
  8. "Julie's in the Drug Squad"
  9. "Last Gang in Town"
  10. "All the Young Punks (New Boots and Contracts)"


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[7]
Q 5/5 stars (12/99, pp.152-3)
Robert Christgau A[8]
Rolling Stone (favourable)[2]
Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[9]
  • Q magazine (12/99, pp. 152–3) - 5 stars out of 5 - " more punk than Blondie...[it] shined of quality....their drumming problems were over with the arrival of jazz-trained [Topper] Headon."
  • Q magazine (5/02 SE, p. 135) - Included in Q's "100 Best Punk Albums".
  • NME (10/2/93, p. 29) - Ranked No. 87 in NME‍ '​s list of the 'Greatest Albums of All Time'.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, except where noted. All lead vocals by Strummer, except "Stay Free" by Jones. 

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Safe European Home"   3:50
2. "English Civil War" (Traditional; arranged by Jones and Strummer) 2:35
3. "Tommy Gun"   3:17
4. "Julie's Been Working for the Drug Squad"   3:03
5. "Last Gang in Town"   5:14
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Guns on the Roof" (written by Topper Headon, Jones, Paul Simonon, Strummer; contains the main riff from The Who's "I Can't Explain") 3:15
2. "Drug-Stabbing Time"   3:43
3. "Stay Free"   3:40
4. "Cheapskates"   3:25
5. "All the Young Punks (New Boots and Contracts)"   4:55
Total length:



  • Sandy Pearlmanproducer
  • Corky Stasiak – engineer
  • Paul Subblebine – mastering engineer
  • Dennis Ferranti – sound engineer
  • Gregg Caruso – sound engineer
  • Kevin Dalimore – sound engineer
  • Chris Mingo – sound engineer
  • Gene Greif – cover designer
  • Hugh Brown – concept designer, cover photograph


Year Chart Position
1978 Swedish Albums Chart[10] 36
1978 UK Albums Chart[1] 2
1979 Billboard Pop albums[3] 126


  1. ^ a b "UK Chart Archive". Retrieved 17 February 2008. 
  2. ^ a b Marcus, Greil (25 January 1979). "The Clash Give 'Em Enough Rope > Album Review". Rolling Stone (283). Archived from the original on 29 June 2007. Retrieved 20 January 2007. 
  3. ^ a b The Clash > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums at AllMusic. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  4. ^ Letts Don; Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon, Terry Chimes, Rick Elgood, The Clash (2001). The Clash, Westway to the World (Documentary). New York, NY: Sony Music Entertainment; Dorismo; Uptown Films. Event occurs at 41:00–45:00. ISBN 0-7389-0082-6. OCLC 49798077. 
  5. ^ Sounds Magazine 17 June 1978
  6. ^ NME Magazine 16 March 1991
  7. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Give 'Em Enough Rope at AllMusic. Retrieved 13 September 2004.
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert. "The Clash > Consumer Guide Reviews". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 11 June 2007. 
  9. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). "The Clash". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. London: Fireside. pp. 167–168. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 24 September 2011.  Portions posted at "The Clash > Album Guide". Retrieved 24 September 2011. 
  10. ^ "Discography The Clash". Retrieved 23 February 2008. 

Further reading[edit]