Saint Etienne

You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone

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Continuing the trend of Beach Boys-inspired album titles that started with 1992's So Tough and continued through 1997's Good Humor, 1993's You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone is a straightforward singles collection covering St. Etienne's first two or three years. Originally released as a bonus disc with vinyl copies of So Tough, You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone collects 11 single A- and B-sides that had made it neither onto that album nor onto their full-length debut, 1991's masterful Foxbase Alpha. This includes alternate single mixes of "Kiss and Make Up" (St. Etienne's debut single, from before Sarah Cracknell installed herself as the group's full-time vocalist) and "People Get Real" from the debut, and a slinky mix of So Tough's "Join Our Club." The album also features the otherwise non-LP single "Who Do You Think You Are," one of St. Etienne's most groove-oriented tunes. You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone doesn't have the satisfying wholeness of either of St. Etienne's first two "proper" albums, which are extremely well sequenced and properly paced; in comparison, this sounds like the odds-and-sods collection that it is. That said, the songs themselves are uniformly fine, and at times brilliant.

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