Elvis Presley is making like a latter-day Julius Caesar. The King of Rock effectively rules over half the planet today, with his latest album commanding the charts of 17 different countries.
Not bad for a guy 25 years dead.
Released in conjunction with the quarter-century anniversary of his demise, Presley's Elvis 30 #1 Hits (a collection of, yes, all his chart-topping singles) currently sits on top of the album listings in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Belgium, Argentina, New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Brazil, Chile, Austria, Spain, Switzerland, Australia and the United Arab Emirates.
In the U.S., the album sold more than 500,000 copies for the week ended Sunday, according to SoundScan numbers.
Believe it or not, Elvis 30 #1 Hits became the first Elvis album to open at number one (Elvis was a force when 45s, not LPs, drove the music biz)--another first for the only person ever to be inducted into three musical halls of fame (rock, gospel, country) and the man who has scored more Top 10 pop singles (40) and gold and platinum awards (a combined 139) than any other artist.
"RCA is thrilled and truly proud to be giving renewed life to the musical legacy of one of the greatest musical artists of all time," chirps Bob Jamieson, chairman of RCA Music Group. "The debut of Elvis 30 #1 Hits at the top of the charts speaks as much to Elvis' future as it does his past."
Inspired by the chart-smashing success of the Beatles' 1, the new Elvis disc collects his usual-suspects greatest hits--"Heartbreak Hotel," "Jailhouse Rock," "Love Me Tender," "Hound Dog," "Suspicious Minds," etc.--along with a 31st bonus track, the recently retooled "A Little Less Conversation." The tune, remixed by Junkie XL for a Nike World Cup commercial, became an unlikely hit over the summer, hitting number one in several countries, including the U.S., and became a last-minute addition to the compilation.
Last week was one of the year's busiest at music retailers, as Elvis' latest led five new Top 10 debuts. India.Arie's sophomore album, Voyage to India, set sail at number six with 109,000 copies. Alt-rock poster boy Beck landed at eight with his not so alt-rock Sea Change selling 90,000 copies. Peter Gabriel, whose last album was the April soundtrack to the Aussie indie flick Rabbit-Proof Fence, saw his Up at nine with 76,000 copies. Nas, who has a new album slated for the holidays, collected leftovers from his past two albums to make Lost Tapes, which took the 10 spot with 70,000 copies.
With all the new debuts, the Dixie Chicks' Home and Avril Lavigne's Let Go remained stuck at two and three, respectively. Last week's top-seater, Disturbed's Believe, fell to four. Finally, Nelly's Nellyville and Eminem's The Eminem Show dropped to their lowest chart positions to date, five and seven, respectively.
Elsewhere, Dirty South preacher-emcee Pastor Troy debuted at 13 with Universal Soldier. In the battle of cowboys, country staple Travis Tritt lassoed number 27 with Strong Enough, while alt-country outlaw turned popster Ryan Adams grabbed 28 with his outtakes album, Demolition. Kid Rock deejay Uncle Kracker crumbled with his latest, No Stranger to Shame, which debuted at 43. Steve Earle, on the other hand, held up despite controversy over his "John Walker's Blues," a first-person song about the so-called American Taliban. His latest, Jerusalem, dropped in at number 59, a few notches higher than his 2000 release, Transcendental Blues.
Other noteworthy debuts included Jackson Browne's first new studio album in six years, Naked Ride Home, at 36. Rapper UGK's Side Hustles opened at 70, Underworld's A Hundred Days Off checked in at 122, Tonic's Head on Straight landed at 141 and Christian rap-rockers Project 86's Truthless Heroes entered at 146.
In the soundtrack department, the hip-hop Brown Sugar album opened at 18; Once More, With Feeling, the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, came in at 49; and Sweet Home Alabama was at 97.
With Elvis' latest adding buzz for anthology albums (Queen and Chicago also dropped new best-of multi-discs this past week, opening at 48 and 63, respectively), next week's challenger for the top spot is the Rolling Stones, who released their Forty Licks collection Tuesday.
Here's a rundown of the Top 10 albums for the week ended September 30:
1. Elvis 30 #1 Hits, Elvis Presley
2. Home, Dixie Chicks
3. Let Go, Avril Lavigne
4. Believe, Disturbed
5. Nellyville, Nelly
6. Voyage to India, India.Arie
7. The Eminem Show, Eminem
8. Sea Change, Beck
9. Up, Peter Gabriel
10. Lost Tapes, Nas