Each week The Hard Times looks back on a classic album from punk history. This week we reviewed The Clash’s sophomore album “Give ‘Em Enough Rope” and, damn is it nasty!
The album marks a significant departure for the Clash. Whereas their first self-titled album remains an early landmark of the heavy social and political themes that would become ingrained in the punk rock ethos, “Give ‘Em Enough Rope” is about one thing and one thing only: fucking.
Many of the tracks on the album describe, in vivid, sweaty detail, specific erotic events in the lives of the band members. The band sets this up immediately in the first track “Safe European Home,” in which Joe Strummer explains the sense of security and community he felt while visiting a German sex dungeon.
Other tales of erotic adventures include “Stay Free,” which describes Paul Simonon getting good and sloppy on a nude beach somewhere. Also, on the sillier side of the spectrum, “Drug Stabbing Time,” recounts the time the entire band all dunked their dong in methedrine and had an impromptu “sword fight” while on a break from recording.
But the album’s standout track is “Tommy Gun,” an imagined story about a boy named Tommy who can only ejaculate by having someone fire a cannon directly at his genitals. Though this is tame by later GG Allin standards, for the time it was the most transgressive of punk songs.
Though it’s unclear why the Clash decided that, for this album, they would eschew the established punk song content upon which they had previously built their image – though it can be safely assumed that they were significantly more horned up this time around, and frankly it’s a vast improvement. There are only so many rants against Margaret Thatcher that can be listened to before you kinda just wanna hear about what she looks like naked.
So, that’s “Give ‘Em Enough Rope,” the Clash album that answers the question “what if Joe Strummer played guitar with his taint for every song?”
SCORE: 4 out of 4 methed-up English dongs