Velvet Elvis

What in the World

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Originally released in 1986 on the band's own Hit-A-Note label and reissued in late 1998 (along with the group's first EP, 1985's Fun and Trouble, and a couple of outtakes), What in the World is a frustrating album in that the good ideas, of which there are many, are undercut by thin production, shambolic musicianship, and a general lack of focus. Primary lead singer and songwriter Dan Trisko provides the best songs, with second guitarist Doug Carman's efforts coming up markedly short. But even Trisko's best songs, like the memorable title track and the '70s AM pop-styled "Second Best," are poorly served by Jeff Carpenter's unimaginative, weedy production and Trisko's unappealingly whiny vocals. (Those songs and the Guadalcanal Diary-like jangle-rocker "Something Happened Today" ended up re-recorded in far superior versions on Velvet Elvis' self-titled 1988 release on Enigma.) The country tinge of songs like "All the Girls in Town" sounds less like an integral part of the group's sound than a rather calculated attempt to hop the roots rock bandwagon on its way out of town. Velvet Elvis would do much better with their second album.