Give 'Em Enough Rope

Give 'Em Enough Rope
Give 'Em Enough Rope
Studio album by The Clash
Released 10 November 1978
Recorded May–June 1978 at Basing Street Studios, London; 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
  2. "English Civil War"
    Released: 23 February 1979

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

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".

The cover was designed by Gene Greif, using a postcard, "End of the Trail", photographed by Adrian Atwater, 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 a rant 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 main riff of the song is similar to "I Can't Explain" by The Who. This riff was borrowed heavily in other Clash songs throughout their early 70's oeuvre.

The band's style of including contemporary subjects in their lyrics was continued on the album; "Tommy Gun" deals with the middle east terrorist situation and the hi-jacking of aircraft while "Julie's Been Working For The Drug Squad" was 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. Julie's Been Working For The Drug Squad also makes a reference to the popular Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" in the line, "It's Lucy in the sky and all kinds of apple pie."

During recording of the album Joe Strummer's trademark Telecaster guitar needed to be taken in for repairs, so for the bulk of the sessions he played a hired semi-acoustic Gibson ES-345.[5]

Sandy Pearlman, who produced the original album was not a big fan of Joe Strummer's voice, so much so that he ensured the drums were mixed louder than the lead singer's vocals on the entire album.[6]


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 (positive)[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 #87 in NME's list of the 'Greatest Albums of All Time'.

Track listing

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

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Safe European Home"   3:50
2. "English Civil War" (Traditional; arranged Mick Jones/Joe 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" (Topper Headon/Mick Jones/Paul Simonon/Joe Strummer) 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



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 (January 25, 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". 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 0738900826. 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 with 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.


  • Gilbert, Pat (2005) [2004]. Passion Is a Fashion: The Real Story of The Clash (4th edition ed.). London: Aurum Press. ISBN 1845131134. OCLC 61177239. 
  • Gray, Marcus (2005) [1995]. The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town (5th revised edition ed.). London: Helter Skelter. ISBN 1905139101. OCLC 60668626. 
  • Green, Johnny; Garry Barker (2003) [1997]. A Riot of Our Own: Night and Day with The Clash (3rd edition ed.). London: Orion. ISBN 0752858432. OCLC 52990890. 
  • Gruen, Bob; Chris Salewicz (2004) [2001]. The Clash (3rd edition ed.). London: Omnibus. ISBN 1903399343. OCLC 69241279. 
  • Needs, Kris (2005-01-25). Joe Strummer and the Legend of the Clash. London: Plexus. ISBN 085965348X. OCLC 53155325. 
  • Topping, Keith (2004) [2003]. The Complete Clash (2nd edition ed.). Richmond: Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 1903111706. OCLC 63129186. 

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