November 10: The Clash released Give ‘Em Enough Rope in 1978

The Clash Give Em Enough Rope

It’s rock and roll all over
In every street and every station
Kids fight like different nations
And it’s brawn against brain
And it’s knife against chain
But it’s all young blood
Flowing down the drain

One of those albums that was played so much on vinyl that it got worn out and bought again (twice!), Fantastic album!

Give ‘Em Enough Rope is one of the greatest transition albums of all time. The Clash was a purely punk album, and the best pure punk album “evvah!” London Calling is an eclectic and unique era-spanning masterpiece. Give ‘Em Enough Rope retain their punk roots, but start to draw in more influence from a more diverse pool.  The album turns out to be one of the band’s best, what am I saying?! All their albums are must-haves! (except for the Cut The crap album of course). In true Clash fashion there’s not one bad track to spare.

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.

Tommy Gun (live on Something Else in 1978):

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”. (Wikipedia)

US promo poster:

Greil Marcus (Rolling Stone):

…The Clash’s attack is still fast and noisy (straight English punk), but with lyrical accents cracking the rough surface (straight English punk with a grip on the future). The band’s vision of public life — the sense that there’s more to life than pleasure and safety — is uncompromised, and so is the humor that keeps that vision from degenerating into a set of slogans, that keeps it full of questions and honest doubt. Imagine the Who’s “I Can’t Explain” as a statement about a world in flames, not a lover’s daze, and you’ve got the idea…

…Give ‘Em Enough Rope is a confident piece of music. The storm begins with the first note and lets up only in snatches. The reality the Clash convey is that of a world upside down, a world in which no one can be sure of where they stand. Lines are drawn between oppressors and victims, killers and targets, but it isn’t meant to be clear who’s who, and there’s not a hint of self-righteousness, of political purity. What you hear in the clatter of guitars (the Yardbirds passed through Captain Beefheart, reggae and Mott the Hoople, all anchored by a big beat) is a reach for drama and passion: the Clash are out to catch the most dangerous moods and fantasies of their time, not to stake out a position…

Read more: Fantastic review by Mr. Marcus in Rolling Stone magazine!

Safe European Home (live, Vienna 1981):

Robert Christgau:

Give ‘Em Enough Rope [Epic, 1978]
Although in the end I find that Sandy Pearlman’s production does as much justice to the power of this band as the debut does to their rough intensity, I know why some are disappointed. The band’s recent strategy has been to cram their dense, hard sound so full of growls and licks and offhand remarks that it never stops exploding. Here that approach occasionally seems overworked, and so does the vision–this major (and privileged) pop group sounds as wearied by the failure of punk solidarity, the persistence of racial conflict, the facelessness of violence, and the ineluctability of capital as a bunch of tenured Marxists. But these familiar contradictions follow upon the invigorating gutter truths of the first album for a reason–they’re truths as well, truths that couldn’t be stated more forcefully with any other music. Great exception: “Stay Free,” Mick Jones’s greeting to a mate fresh out of jail that translates the band’s new political wariness into personal warmth. A


– Hallgeir

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