It is amazing how wrong both the critics and the public can perceive an album when it is first released. The Clash’s second record is a case in point. The album was released in 1978, and it was largely panned. Most of the criticisms I have read focus on the producer that was chosen, a Sandy Pearlman (famous for his work with harder-rocking outfits). The truth is that the album is the most natural evolution of the sound The Clash had presented on their first offering you could ever picture.
In actuality, it is hard to imagine how an album that starts up with “Safe European Home” could cause a bad impression on the listener. The song is one of their best style explorations, melding a call-and-response lyric with a bestial wall of riffage that eventually gives way to a reggae excursion. You know what? That song alone justifies buying the album, especially since it is omitted on “best of” packages. The album as a whole has never got the recognition it deserves. In fact, when the “From Here To Eternity” live CD was issued in 1999, not a single song from “Give’em Enough Rope” was included. Not even “Tommy Gun” (the third track here) was featured. That song showcases that the political vision of the band was advancing both at a steady rhythm and in a focused way. It was Strummer’s homage to mercenaries, and a study on violent types and their motivations. The drums emulate a machine gun all the way through, and the sudden ending makes it all feel as if a grenade had been lodged into the brain of the listener through the song, only to explode at the song’s conclusion. Continue reading