Give 'Em Enough Rope

Give 'Em Enough Rope

Give 'Em Enough Rope is the second album by The Clash, released in 1978. In the US it was their official debut, preceding the U.S. version of The Clash. The album was well received by critics and fans, peaking at number 2 in the UK chart, and number 128 in the U.S.

Album information

It was voted album of the year for 1978 by Rolling Stone and Time magazines, as well as the popular UK music weekly, Sounds. The latter 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 #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 and fined £750) for shooting racing pigeons with an air-gun from the roof of their rehearsal building. The main riff of the song is lifted from 'I Can't Explain' by The Who.

The album's title comes from the expression "give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves".


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

Side one

  1. "Safe European Home" – 3:50
  2. "English Civil War" – 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

  1. "Guns on the Roof" (Strummer, Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon) – 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


The following people contributed to Give 'Em Enough Rope:


Chart (1978) Peak
Swedish Albums Chart 36
UK Albums Chart 2



  • Gilbert, Pat (2005). Passion Is a Fashion: The Real Story of The Clash. 4th edition, London: Aurum Press.
  • Gray, Marcus (2005). The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town. 5th revised edition, London: Helter Skelter.
  • Green, Johnny; Garry Barker (2003). A Riot of Our Own: Night and Day with The Clash. 3rd edition, London: Orion.
  • Gruen, Bob; Chris Salewicz (2004). The Clash. 3rd edition, London: Omnibus.
  • Needs, Kris Joe Strummer and the Legend of the Clash. London: Plexus.
  • Topping, Keith (2004). The Complete Clash. 2nd edition, Richmond: Reynolds & Hearn.


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