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The Clash - Give 'Em Enough Rope (Cover Artwork)

The Clash

The Clash: Give 'Em Enough RopeGive 'Em Enough Rope (1978)
The Clash

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
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Contributed by: SumWonSumWon
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Can Rudie fail? No, no he can't. The Clash made this abundantly clear by incorporating the message into two of their very best songs ("TWO?!?!" cries the casual the Clash fan, "WHAAAA‚?¶"). While we're all familiar with "Rudie Can't Fail" from London Calling, there is also a lesser-known Clash song called "Safe European Home" that also brandishes this lyric in an equally epic and climactic sing-along. The song, a rocker with a reggae breakdown, is highly enigmatic. Musically, it seems to suggest that the Clash are growing restless in the safety and non-experimentation of three-chord punk rock, brandishing a relatively unorthodox song structure and an experimental ending complete with a fade-out and a fade-in. Lyrically, on the other hand, it states that they have ventured out into new physical territory (Jamaica) only to hastily retreat back to the safety of the environment they know (Europe). Nice.

Next up is "English Civil War," a dark punk ditty based on the American Civil War tune "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." The song does not carry the same hopeful, optimistic tone as its inspiration, however, as it proclaims that Johnny won't be coming home a winner but with a face "beaten in fear," and that while the sun will be shining upon his return, "you gotta know it's shining through a crack in the clouds." Leaving us hanging on that dubious note, we get to the best track on the album.

RATA-TAT RATA-TAT go the drums as Tommy Gun explodes like a round from a, well, tommy gun I suppose. "Maybe he wants to die for the money, maybe he wants to kill for his country. Whatever he wants, he's gonna get it," goes the refrain, as Strummer warns of the hunger for power that a gun can bestow on its holder. The machine gun-emulating drums carry this tune, a tune so fine it single-handedly merits purchase of this album in my opinion.

Next up is "Julie's in the Drug Squad," a nice little honky tonk-influenced romp about people who sells drugs to rise to the top, only to end up in the slammer. If there is one song that hints at the no-holds-barred experimentation of London Calling, this is the one. With that, the first section of the album comes to a close.

Clearly, the Clash have developed as musicians. With themes and concepts out the wazoo on these first four tracks, the quality was bound to give out a little at some point. Alas, "Last Gang in Town" begins the slide into *gasp* above-average territory -- which is dangerously low for the Clash ‚?? with three solid punk rock numbers. "Last Gang in Town," "Guns on the Roof" (borrowing the Who's "Can't Explain" riff for the second time in their career) and "Drug Stabbing Time" continue down the path the beginning of the album laid: a discussion of the perils of gangs ("it's brawn against brain, it's knife against chain"), guns ("guns guns, they're made to shoot"), and drugs ("paying off the big fine, it's drug stabbing time").

We get a change of pace with the next one, "Stay Free," as Mick takes over the mic to sing a love song of two punk rockers making their way through the school system. Musically, this song is a precursor to "Lost in the Supermarket."

The album wraps up with "Cheapstakes" and "All the Young Punks," which share the similar theme of being young and happy with what you have. "We're cheapskates, what are we supposed to do? 'We can rock! We can roll!'" exclaim the boys in the light-hearted "Cheapskates," because after all, you might as well "laugh at your life, there ain't much to cry for." And while you're at it, "live it now, because there aint much to die for," as Joe guides in the album's closer.

Sandwiched between The Clash and London Calling, two of the finest albums in punk (and the latter in all of music), Give ‚??Em Enough Rope does not get the attention it deserves (case in point -- until now, it had not been reviewed here). At the point of this recording, the Clash were a band in transition. The sound on this album is slicker than that of their first, and the non-punk elements pop up sooner rather than later -- and continue to poke their head up consistently through the album (a little honky tonk piano here, a little cowbell there). If you don't have this and you've ever wondered what the hell got into the guys between `77 and `79, you owe it to yourself to pick this up.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Jesus_H_Christ (November 12, 2007)

Some more info about the record: "Stay Free" was actually written not as a love song but rather a song about Mick and his best friend (whose name I can't recall right now, I'm thinking it's Robin-or-something). Also, "Julie's Been Working For the Drug Squad" was about an LSD raid that occured in London during the record's recording.

This is a great record. Not as tight or fast like the s/t or as diverse and experimental like Sandinista! but still a great record.

miff (August 9, 2007)

my cover art is slightly different
where it says the clash mine has it in a slightly different font
and again give em enough rope is again in a different font and just below the clash at the top.

Anonymous (August 6, 2007)

thought this review was pretty decent. however nobody has mentioned the kick ass breakdown in stay free. that breakdown is gold jerry, gold!

lushj (August 6, 2007)

"Worst of the first 3 albums but still damn good."

True, but considering that these 3 records are 3 of the best punk or rock records ever, that's not saying much, ha ha ha...

-Strewtho- (August 4, 2007)

Good review. I agree on Safe European Home, one of my favourites too.
Worst of the first 3 albums but still damn good.

ozmanx (August 4, 2007)

Score is for "Drug Stabbing Time"

Anonymous (August 3, 2007)

one of my fave albums of all time!

theyounginfluential (August 3, 2007)

safe european home is my favorite clash song ever

maxethunders (August 3, 2007)

This is my favorite Clash album with two of my favorite songs in "Safe European Home" and "Stay Free". I'm glad to see a reviewer could do this a justice.

Anonymous (August 3, 2007)

certainly better than the rubbish that was sadinista. that triple album could have have been trimmed down to a single LP with all the shit they tossed on there.

sammyg (August 3, 2007)

Totally underrated album since it came between London Calling and their S/T album. The production is trash but the songs are awesome. You can definitely see the transitioning beginning between the S/T album and London Calling.

Safe European Home, English Civil War, Julie's Been Working for the Drug Squad, Guns on the Roof, I mean there's not a bad song in the lot of 10.

Anonymous (August 3, 2007)

strong album though obviously not their best.

as a side note, over the years i have come to regard combat rock (though not as good as london calling) as a work of genius.

SumWon (August 3, 2007)

We're one away from having the full set of Clash studio album reviews. We just need someone to write a review of Cut the Crap, but I don't know if anyone wants to touch that particular record....

I encourage a better writer to, but I'll write a Cut the Crap review on Aug 17 if no one has done it yet. That'll also give the unsatisfied fella a few comments down 2 weeks to write it himself before I muck it up.

aubin (August 3, 2007)

We're one away from having the full set of Clash studio album reviews. We just need someone to write a review of Cut the Crap, but I don't know if anyone wants to touch that particular record....

Anonymous (August 3, 2007)

not as good as the S/T or "london Calling" but solid nonetheless; "safe european home" is certainly one of the top 10 or 20 clash songs for sure.

Paul

Anonymous (August 3, 2007)

Stars for crappy review.

Anonymous (August 3, 2007)

The best Clash album.

miff (August 3, 2007)

i have only ever seen this once so i bought it and i havent seen this anywhere else since. i seem to recal reading that this was recorded in jamaica.

It really isnt as good as the UK release of the clash, but disregarding their other work its still pretty good

GlassPipeMurder (August 3, 2007)

The first couple songs on this are awesome...and then after that it's hard to tell because my record skips :-D

SumWon (August 3, 2007)

i always thought Julie was an informer for the narcs (drug squad)

Oops, you're definately right. I guess I was too into the record when I was writing the review. I need to edit better. I also used 'brandish' twice in the first paragraph. Ouch.

Anonymous (August 3, 2007)

i always thought Julie was an informer for the narcs (drug squad)

strungoutferriswheel (August 3, 2007)

score is for the only band that ever mattered

JerryCola (August 3, 2007)

Wow I'm surprised this album has never been reviewed here before, it truly is an underrated album.

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