Elvis Conversation movie1200 1

elvis’ fifty worldwide number one hits

IN THE YEAR 2000, in­stead of Y2K we got THE BEATLES 1, an album that col­lected Bea­tles’ number one hits around the world. De­spite re­cy­cling end­lessly re­cy­cled sides, it sold more than 10,000,000 copies in its first twelve months of re­lease! And then it kept on selling: it is cer­ti­fied by the RIAA for sales of 11,000,000 in the US alone.

THE BEATLES 1 was just as big else­where: it has been cer­ti­fied at the Plat­inum level in twenty coun­tries, selling more than a mil­lion in five of them!

Es­ti­mated global sales ex­ceed 30,000,000 copies, making it one of the biggest selling al­bums in the world in the 21st cen­tury.

This is un­prece­dented for a com­pi­la­tion album—especially one re­cy­cling hits al­ready re­cy­cled on sev­eral com­pi­la­tions be­fore!

THE BEATLES 1 con­sists of twenty-seven sides that had reached #1 in the UK or the US during 1963-1970 as 45 rpm sin­gles.

Each of these sides has been re­cy­cled sev­eral times on var­ious al­bums through the years be­fore 2000. 1


Number One: cover of BEATLES 1 album.

THE BEATLES 1 is ar­guably the most vi­su­ally com­pelling cover art for one of the Fab Four’s al­bums since 1968’s THE BEATLES. While the glowing yellow against a hot red bor­ders on garish, the ef­fect is cer­tainly attention-grabbing. Oh, and the mu­sic’s kinda cool, too.

Number one records worldwide

Since RCA couldn’t be first, they were bigger: in Sep­tember 2002, they re­leased ELVIS: 30 #1 HITS, a col­lec­tion of thirty sides that had reached the top of na­tional sur­veys in the US and the UK. It was also a phe­nom­enal suc­cess, selling 3,000,000 copies in the US within two months of re­lease! It is cur­rently cer­ti­fied by the RIAA with a 5xMulti-Platinum Award.

Like the Bea­tles album, it was also a huge suc­cess world­wide, with total sales out­side the US in ex­cess of 10,000,000 copies!

But ELVIS: 30 #1 HITS didn’t col­lect all of Elvis’ chart-toppers: I don’t know why the com­pi­la­tion ended with thirty tracks, as there were other sides that had topped an im­por­tant chart that were not in­cluded on the album.


Number One: cover of ELVIS 30 #1 HITS.

Like the Bea­tles set, RCA used a very min­i­malist de­sign for the art­work. a nice change of pace from some of the tackier covers that long­time Elvis fans have as­so­ci­ated with Presley Product.

Best sellers in stores

The most im­por­tant pop charts in the world are those of the Amer­ican mag­a­zines Bill­board and Cash Box. Bill­board’s ‘Best Sellers in Stores’ was en­tirely sales-based, so for the first two years or so of Pres­ley’s pop chart suc­cess (1956-1958), it is the most re­li­able in­di­cator of sales—and should be taken the most se­ri­ously by his­to­rians and writers.

But is not.

Bill­board’s Top 100 pop chart—which be­came the Hot 100 in 1958—was orig­i­nally a weird com­bi­na­tion of sales, jukebox plays, and radio spins.

The Cash Box Top 100 was re­put­edly sales-based and there­fore had some very dif­ferent po­si­tions for major records through the years. It is the survey that I use when­ever pos­sible. Un­for­tu­nately, Bill­board be­came the ‘in­dustry bible’ and the only way most readers will see Cash Box po­si­tions is in my ar­ti­cles!

During the ’50s and into the ’70s there were two other na­tional pop charts in the US: Va­riety and Record World, nei­ther of which are re­ferred to today.

The United Kingdom has al­ways been the second biggest market, there­fore their chart po­si­tions have also been taken se­ri­ously. In the UK, there have been a se­ries of weekly pub­li­ca­tions that have car­ried their own charts—decades be­fore there was any­thing re­motely ‘of­fi­cial.’ These in­cluded but were not lim­ited to (with year of founding):

1926  Melody Maker
1949  New Mu­sical Ex­press
1958  Disc
1959  Record Re­tailer
1961  Mersey Beat
1972  Music Week (for­merly Record Re­tailer)

The re­li­a­bility of each survey has been ac­cepted or re­jected by fans and his­to­rians for decades. I used the list­ings in John Townsend’s book Elvis UK for the #1 records below.

Reading the chart below

On the chart below, the songs are listed chrono­log­i­cally. There are six columns fol­lowing each side listing six pos­sible sources where the record could have reached #1 on a re­spected survey.

The first column is Bill­board’s Best ‘Sellers in Stores’ chart (1956-1958).

The second column is Bill­board’s Top 100 (1956-1958) and Hot 100 (1958-1977).

The third column is Cash Box’s Top 100.

The fourth column is one of sev­eral pos­sible UK sur­veys.

The fifth column is Bill­board’s C&W chart.

The sixth column is Bill­board’s R&B chart.

Ti­tles fol­lowed by an as­terisk (*) are those chart-toppers that were not in­cluded in the 30 #1 HITS album.

 

Number One: picture sleeve for HOUND DOG (1956).

Number One: picture sleeve for DON'T BE CRUEL (1956).

In the US, first print­ings of this pic­ture sleeve pro­moted Hound Dog as the A-side; second print­ings pro­moted Don’t Be Cruel as the fea­tured side. As both sleeves were man­u­fac­tured on un­coated paper, they are very hard to find in near mint con­di­tion. Most le­git­i­mate copies are worn and aged (top image), un­less they are unau­tho­rized re­pro­duc­tions (bottom image).

1956

Mys­tery Train * /
I Forgot To Re­member To Forget
                               __      __      __      __      # 1      __
(The B-side was the bigger hit on the country charts: it spent one week alone at #1 and then shared the #1 spot with its A-side for one week.) 2

Heart­break Hotel                                                               # 1     # 1     # 1      __      # 1      __

Blue Suede Shoes *                                                              __      __      __      __      __      __ 
(Blue Suede Shoes reached #1 in Italy.)

I Want You, I Need You, I Love You *                            # 1     __      __      __      # 1      __

Hound Dog /                                                                        # 1      __      __      __     # 1      # 1
Don’t Be Cruel                                                                      # 1     # 1     # 1     # 1     # 1      # 1
(Hound Dog was the big hit in most coun­tries, but Don’t Be Cruel was the bigger hit in the US, where it mat­tered most.)

Love Me Tender                                                                  # 1     # 1      __      __     __      __ 

 

Number One: picture sleeve for PLAYING FOR KEEPS / TOO MUCH (1957).

Elvis Presley, singer of se­rious songs. This is only one of a few pic­ture sleeves that used a white back­ground. This is not an easy sleeve to find in near mint con­di­tion!

1957

Too Much                                                                             # 1      __      __      __      __      __

All Shook Up                                                                        # 1     # 1      __      # 1      __      # 1

(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear                                          # 1     # 1     __      __       # 1      # 1

Party *                                                                                     __      __     __     # 1      __      __
(RCA is­sued sev­eral unique sin­gles in the UK. Both sides of Party / Got A Lot O’ Livin’ To Do were hits, with the A-side being Elvis’ third British chart-topper.)

Jail­house Rock                                                                    # 1      # 1      __     # 1      # 1      # 1

 

Number One: picture sleeve for ONE NIGHT (1958).

RCA used a photo of Elvis Presley from Jail­house Rock for this 1958 re­lease. One side of the sleeve pro­moted one side of the single as the fea­tured side, while the other side of the sleeve pro­moted the other side.

1958

Don’t                                                                                      # 1     # 1      __      __      __      __

Wear My Ring Around Your Neck *                                __      __      __      __      __     # 1

Hard Headed Woman                                                        # 1      __      __      __      __      __

King Creole                                                                          __      __      __      __      __      __ 
(King Creole reached #1 in Sweden.)

One Night /
I Got Stung *                                                                                      __      __      # 1      __      __
(In the UK, this was pro­moted as a double-A-sided single with One Night fa­vored over I Got Stung. On some British sur­veys, both sides reached #1.)

 

Number One: picture sleeve for I NEED YOUR LOVE TONIGHT (1959).

RCA used a photo of Elvis Presley from Jail­house Rock for this 1958 re­lease. One side of the sleeve pro­moted one side of the single as the fea­tured side, while the other side of the sleeve pro­moted the other side.

1959

A Fool Such As I /
I Need Your Love Tonight *                                                         __      __      # 1      __      __
(In the UK, this was pro­moted as a double-A-sided single; on some sur­veys, both sides reached #1.)

A Big Hunk O’ Love                                                                       # 1      __      __      __      __

 

Number One: picture sleeve for IT'S NOW OR NEVER (1960).

When Elvis re­turned from ac­tive mil­i­tary ser­vice, his hair was its nat­ural light brown color. he wouldn’t start dying it black until Hol­ly­wood beck­oned him back to the sound stage.

1960

Stuck On You /
Fame And For­tune *                                                                      # 1     # 1     # 1      __      __
(In the UK, this was pro­moted as a double-A-sided single; on the Melody Maker survey, both sides reached #1.)

It’s Now Or Never                                                                          # 1     # 1     # 1      __      __

Are You Lone­some Tonight                                                          # 1     # 1     # 1      __      __

 

Number One: picture sleeve for CAN'T HELP FALLING IN LOVE (1961).

The tran­si­tion of Elvis the Pelvis to Elvis the movie matinee idol was com­plete with Blue Hawaii. The man pic­tured here barely re­sem­bles the man in the Hound Dog pic­ture sleeve from 1956 (above).

1961

Wooden Heart                                                                                  __      __      # 1     __      __

Sur­render                                                                                          # 1      # 1     # 1      __      __

Wild In The Country * /
I Feel So Bad
 *                                                                                   __      __      # 1      __      __
(In the UK, this was pro­moted as a double-A-sided single with Wild In The Country fa­vored over I Feel So Bad. On the New Mu­sical Ex­press survey, both sides reached #1.)

(Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame /
Little Sister
 *                                                                                      __      __      # 1      __      __
(In the UK, this was pro­moted as a double-A-sided single with His Latest Flame fa­vored over Little Sister. On some sur­veys, both sides reached #1.)

Can’t Help Falling In Love /
Rock-A Hula Baby *                                                                        __      __      # 1      __      __
(In the UK, this was pro­moted as a double-A-sided single with Rock-A-Hula Baby fa­vored over Can’t Help Falling In Love. On some sur­veys, both sides reached #1.)

 

Number One: German picture sleeve for KING OF THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD (1962).

In some coun­tries, RCA had the good sense to pull King Of The Whole Wide World from the KID GALAHAD sound­track and issue it as a single. Fans in those coun­tries were treated to one of Elvis’s best rockers of the early ’60s. The pic­ture sleeve above is from West Ger­many.

1962

No More                                                                                         __      __      __      __      __ 
(No More reached #1 in Italy and Spain.)

Good Luck Charm                                                                           # 1     # 1     # 1      __      __

She’s Not You                                                                                     __      __     # 1     __     __

King Of The Whole Wide World *                                                 __      __      __      __      __ 
(King Of The Whole Wide World reached #1 in Norway.)

Re­turn To Sender                                                                             __      # 1     # 1      __      __

 

Number One: Japanese picture sleeve for (YOU'RE) THE DEVIL IN DISGUISE (1963).

The now generic-looking pic­ture sleeve with an ever-smiling Presley made Devil In Dis­guise look like yet an­other in­nocuous movie song. It was not. This is the orig­inal Japanese sleeve.

1963

(You’re The) Devil In Dis­guise                                                        __      __    # 1       __      __

Bossa Nova Baby *                                                                            __      __      __      __      __ 
(Bossa Nova Baby reached #1 in Bel­gium.)

 

Number One: Brazilian picture sleeve for Compact-33 VIVA LAS VEGAS (1964).

Can you imagine having Ann-Margret in 1964 and not wanting to ex­ploit her image and her voice on every record imag­in­able? I can’t, but Colonel Parker and RCA Victor could and did. This great sleeve is for a rare Compact-33 single is­sued in Brazil.

1964

Viva Las Vegas *                                                                             __      __      __      __      __ 
(Viva Las Vegas reached #1 in Vic­toria, Aus­tralia.)

Ain’t That Loving You Baby *                                                       __      __      __      __      __ 
(Ain’t That Loving You Baby reached #1 in New South Wales, Aus­tralia.)

 

Number One: Italian picture sleeve for CRYING IN THE CHAPEL (1965).

The blurb on this Italian pic­ture sleeve “1 nelle clas­si­fiche discogra­fiche di tutto il mondo” trans­lates to “1 in the record charts world­wide.” This would seem to in­di­cate that this record’s re­lease in Italy was de­layed by sev­eral months. Alas, Crying In The Chapel was not a #1 record in Italy.

1965

Crying In The Chapel                                                                      __      __      # 1      __      __

1966–1968

While Elvis Presley spent most of his time making movies best for­gotten by all but his least dis­cerning fans, he was making some ex­cel­lent music. But it was not the kind of music that made large num­bers of people run to the stores and buy his records. It is pos­sible that Elvis didn’t have a single #1 record any­where in the world during this time …


Number One: French picture sleeve for EDGE OF REALITY (1968).

Why anyone would pro­mote Edge Of Re­ality over If I Can Dream at the time of the NBC TV Spe­cial seems mind-boggling in hind­sight. But RCA did in Aus­tralia and they topped at least on survey down under!

1969

Edge Of Re­ality *                                                                           __      __      __      __      __ 
(Edge Of Re­ality reached #1 in Vic­toria, Aus­tralia.)

In The Ghetto                                                                                    __     # 1      __      __      __

Sus­pi­cious Minds                                                                             # 1     # 1     # 1       __      __

 

Number One: picture sleeve for YOU DON'T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME (1970)

Elvis Presley, singer of se­rious songs. This is only one of a few pic­ture sleeves that used a white back­ground. This is not an easy sleeve to find in near mint con­di­tion!

1970

The Wonder Of You                                                                          __      __      # 1       __      __

You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me *                                        __      __      __      __      __ 
(You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me reached #1 in France.)

 

Number One: picture sleeve for BURNING LOVE (1972).

Elvis Presley, singer of se­rious songs. This is only one of a few pic­ture sleeves that used a white back­ground. This is not an easy sleeve to find in near mint con­di­tion!

1972

Burning Love                                                                                     __     # 1      __      __      __

1973–1975

While Elvis Presley spent most of his time on stages across the country singing the same songs over and over and over, he was not making the kind of music that made large num­bers of people run to the stores and buy his records. It is pos­sible that Elvis didn’t have a single #1 record any­where in the world during this time …

 

Number One: German picture sleeve for MOODY BLUE (1976).

This German sleeve is dra­mat­i­cally su­pe­rior to the lame sleeve RCA gave Amer­ican record buyers in 1976!

1976

Moody Blue *                                                                                     __      __      __      # 1     __

 

Number One: German picture sleeve for WAY DOWN (1977).

Most of the world used the same arrange­ment for the pic­ture sleeve to Way Down / Pledging My Love. Ger­many kept the same pic­ture but used a dif­ferent layout with the white bor­ders at top and bottom and the title in the blue ban­ners.

1977

Way Down                                                                                         __      __      # 1       # 1     __


Number One: photo of Elvis in his gold lame suit (1957).

POSTSCRIPTUALLY, in the wake of Pres­ley’s death in Au­gust 1977, sto­ries made the rounds that every Elvis 45, LP, and tape had sold from every store in the country within a day or two. De­mand con­tinued for sev­eral years, es­pe­cially for al­bums. Oddly the ti­tles that sold barely showed on the charts. Sales ta­pered off until the ’90s, when CD sales were given a booster shot by THE KING OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL boxed set.

Due to a va­riety of cir­cum­stances, sev­eral sin­gles topped charts out­side the US, mainly in the UK.

In 2002, trance-dance producer/engineer Tom Holken­borg (aka Junkie XL) remixed A Little Less Con­ver­sa­tion for a Nike World Cup tele­vi­sion com­mer­cial ti­tled Se­cret Tour­na­ment(below). 3


Elvis Presley- A Little Less Conversation- Nike Vedio

The com­mer­cial was pop­ular all over the world and the track was re­leased as a single cred­ited to Elvis Vs JXL. A Little Less Con­ver­sa­tion reached #1 on at least twenty charts around the world. It may be one of the biggest selling sin­gles of the 21st Cen­tury!

In 2005, three more topped the British charts in the new cen­tury during a pop­ular reissue pro­gram: Jail­house RockOne Night / I Got Stung, and It’s Now Or Never.

It’s un­likely that we will ever see an­other Elvis recording reach #1 on a major survey any­where in the world. But, un­like­lier things have hap­pened …


Elvis Presley - A Little Less Con­ver­sa­tion

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo of the hip swingers dancing at the top of the page is the party scene that serves as the set­ting for the orig­inal A Little Less Con­ver­sa­tion in the 1968 movie Live A Little, Love A Little. Re­leased as as single in 1968, it tanked. In hind­sight, it wasn’t as lame a record for Elvis as it seemed—but the com­pe­ti­tion in ’68 was heady in­deed, and Elvis seemed waaaaaay out of touch with most of his music at the time.

 
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FOOTNOTES:

1   For rea­sons that I don’t want to waste time having ex­plained to me, two im­por­tant chart-toppers were left off the album:

Please Please Me was #1 on sev­eral British sur­veys. As their first chart-topper, this is one of the most im­por­tant events in their ca­reer.
Twist And Shout was #1 for one week on Cash Box, slip­ping in be­tween She Loves You and Can’t Buy Me Love.

And if the decision-makers for Bea­tles product used the same rea­soning that I do in this ar­ticle below, then there would be sev­eral more nu­mero uno hits to add to the list.

2   Tech­ni­cally, Mys­tery Train / I Forgot To Re­member To Forget was re­leased in late 1955 on Sun Records, but it didn’t reach the top of the country charts until early 1956—after RCA Victor took over man­u­fac­turing and dis­tri­b­u­tion. They pro­moted the country side, I Forgot To Re­member To Forget, as the A-side.

3   It was the first time Pres­ley’s es­tate had granted per­mis­sion for any of the artist’s ma­te­rial to be remixed.



 
 

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It’s re­ally too bad RCA didn’t go with the broader con­text you’ve assembled.…Would have made a much more com­plete overview of both E’s music and his world­wide pop­u­larity. (And added some­thing like 15 great records to an al­ready strong set.) If this album ex­isted it would prob­ably be the Elvis I lis­tened to most.

Do the clam was number 1 in Japan ?

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