Friday, 15 July 2016

"Give 'Em Enough Rope" by THE CLASH (Inside The 2013 'Sound System' Multiple-Disc Box Set Of Remasters on Sony) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"Sound System" by THE CLASH featuring "Give 'Em Enough Rope" 

"…Kings And Queens And Generals..."

I'll openly admit to a wee tremble when this beauty got handed over by a relieved postman - his arms reverting back to normalcy. This thing is big and heavy and yet I love every mad over-the-top inch of it. Amidst its glories is their second (and for me) overlooked album from the spring of 1978 - the short but storming "Give 'Em Enough Rope". You could argue of course that you simply buy the stand-alone September 2013 CD Remaster for under a fiver and be done with it. But I'd argue that THE CLASH is worth the splurge (especially as the Box set's price has dropped from ninety to sixty quid). There's a ton of info to get through on this sucker so let's do the drug stabbing time...

Released September 2013 and featuring full involvement with the band - "Sound System" by THE CLASH is a multiple CD, DVD and Memorabilia Box Set on Sony 88725460002 (Barcode 887254600022) and features the following:

A beautiful and thoughtfully put together Box Set shaped like a Ghetto Blaster Radio (270 x 420 x 100mm) - and once you open the flip-top lid - it reveals each item has been carefully placed inside in a numerical order - their exact placing within laid out in detail in the 'Service Manual'. Here are the contents - numbered 1 to 22 (1 to 8 housed in hard card book sleeves – the music is 1 to 6):

1. The Clash CD (Newly Remastered by Tim Young and The Clash)
2. Give 'Em Enough Rope CD (Newly Remastered)
3. London Calling 2CD (Newly Remastered)
4. Sandinista! 3CD (Newly Remastered) [1 to 4 on the left side]
5. Combat Rock CD (Newly Remastered)
6. The Clash Extras 3CD (Newly Remastered)

7. The Clash DVD (Newly Remastered)
8. Service Manual (Hardback Book Sleeve Like The CDs) [5 to 8 on the right side]
9. Flightcase: 5 Badges and Dog Tags [centred between-and-dividing 1 to 8 CDs]
10. Flightcase: 3 DIY Stickers: 85 x 140mm [behind 1 to 4 CDs]
11. Flightcase: The Clash Paperback Book ("The Future Is Unwritten" - blank inside) [behind CDs 5 to 8]
12. The Clash Folder (contains 13 to 18 below)
13. The Armagideon Times Special Edition (36 Pages)
(Features written contributions from The Baker, Robin Banks, John Cooper Clarke, Johnny Green, Ray Jordan, Don Letts, Alex Michon, Chris Salewicz, Pennie Smith and Kosmo Vinyl. There are also essays from each member of the band - JOE STRUMMER, MICK ONES, PAUL SIMONON and TOPPER HEADON)
14. The Armagideon Times  (Reprinted Fanzine - 24 Pages)
15. The Armagideon Times 2 (Reprinted fanzine  - 24 Pages)
16. Bumper Sticker 88 x 297mm
17. Bumper Sticker 88 x 297mm
18. The Clash Vintage Sticker Set: 180 x 280mm (9 peelable stickers on one sheet)
19. Riser (Black & Yellow Card at the base of the box)
20. Poster Tube (Looks Like A Large Cigarette with a 'Clash' Filter Area)
21. Poster (15" x 15")
22. The Box Itself (inside Divider Has Number 22 on it)

The detachable card list on the rear falls away easily so I simply store it inside with the 'folder' in the rear pouch. Quite apart from the sheer visual and tactile whack of this thing - the big news for fans is brand new remasters from first generation tapes by TIM YOUNG in conjunction with the band at Metropolis Studios in London. We should talk about the REMASTERS because they're fabulous. Tim Young's notes in the "Extras" 3-disc set explain that "Give ‘Em Enough Rope" has had the first generation tapes used for the first time to his knowledge - so I immediately went to my favourite track "Guns On The Roof" - and WOW is the only appropriate response. It sounds just incredible with all that guitar power you always thought was buried in the mix somewhere now to the fore. "Drug-Stabbing Time" and "Stay Free" are even better - leaping out of your speakers with renewed venom. Let’s get to their second album...

Disc 2 - "Give 'Em Enough Rope" (37:02 minutes):
1. Safe European Home
2. English Civil War
3. Tommy Gun
4. Julie's Been Working For The Drug Squad
5. Last Gang In Town
6. Guns On The Roof [Side 2]
7. Drug-Stabbing Time
8. Stay Free
9. Cheapskates
10. All The Young Punks (New Boots And Contracts)
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 2nd album "Give 'Em Enough Rope" - released October 1978 in the UK on CBS Records S CBS 82431 and February 1979 in the USA on Epic JE 35543

The second "Safe European Home" hits your speakers – the power is formidable. Like most I grew up with the British-pressed CBS Records Vinyl LP and it was good without ever being great in terms of kick-ass punch. No such problem here. On the 23rd of February 1979 – CBS took “English Civil War” out for a ride as an A-side 7" single with a non-album cover of the Toots & The Maytals classic "Pressure Drop" as its Reggae-tinted B-side (Track 14 on Disc 1 of the "Sound System Extras" 3CD set). Before that 24 November 1978 saw "Tommy Gun" be released as the LP's debut 7" single with the non-album "1-2 Crush On You" as its B-side (Track 12 on the "Sound System Extras" 3CD set). Both "English Civil War" and "Tommy Gun" rock with this new audio. I still get a giggle from "Julie's Been Working For The Drug Squad" and can remember the 'everybody's high' lyrics. Side 1 ends with the fighting song "Last Gang In Town" - and again those guitars and drums are finally unleashed.

I can't be rational about the '1-2-3-4' of "Guns On The Roof" - a truly awesome song that straddles Punk and Rock and one of the truly great Clash riffs. Strummer snarls out lyrics like 'shaking in terror' and 'killing in error’ and 'a jury of a million faces' and 'guns made to shoot'. I can still feel the hairs on my arms going up when I first heard it. Now here's a band I can love I thought - go ape to - bring it on (and the remaster is utterly amazing too). As if that's not enough Side 2 offers up another huge rocker "Drug-Stabbing Time" - a kick-ass piece of Punk Rock that still feels dangerous and alive. More superb riffage for "Stay Free" - taking no crap from teacher - thrown out - weekends go dancing - chat up the girls on the bus while you try to look cool smoking menthols. The album roars to a finish with the 'never read a book' anger in "Cheapskates" and the 'worked there for a week but got the boot' of "All The Young Punks (New Boots And Contracts)" - both with amazing Bass and Guitar clarity. What a ride the whole album is...a short but effective kick in the mental nuts...

To sum up - "The Last Gang In Town" and "The Only Band That Ever Mattered" - there's been an awful lot of knob written about The Clash across the years (what about the Ramones, The Pistols or even Television) - and "Sound System" conveniently exorcises out the infamous and horrible end of "Cut The Crap" in 1985. You could also argue that you'd be better off just spending twenty quid on the simpler "5 Studio Albums Box Set" released in tandem with this - but I'd say if ever a band deserved this kind of over-the-top celebration - then England's heroes The Clash are the boys. And when you think of how EMI has consistently cheaped-out Stranglers fans with card sleeves and little else - thank God Sony stumped up. I love the care and attention that went into "Sound System". So there you have it - all those old bits spangly new again and presented to us in a fabulous setting.

Tim Young has described remastering The Clash's six years of output as a 'labour of love'. Well - while the future may indeed be unwritten - I suspect his brilliant work here (in conjunction with surviving members of the band) will be written about for decades to come. This 2013 CD Remaster of "Give 'Em Enough Rope" is a roaring triumph. Well done to all involved and get this set into your 'Safe European Home' right soon...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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