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Elvis breaks a few chart records

18/06/2002: Driven by freely available footage and a slow weekend, news services all over have been quick to report that, as expected, Elvis Presley has topped the UK charts with a Nike-promoted remix of 1968 obscurity 'A Little Less Conversation'. In doing so, he raises his total of UK number ones to 18, thereby breaking a longstanding tie with the Beatles which many chart fanatics assumed would stand for all time, or until Westlife overtook both of them.

The Presley achievement is considerable, but it does deserve to carry a few asterisks of the kind that don't rate a mention in most news reports. The first is that, strictly speaking, Elvis hasn't topped the charts on his own; the record is attributed to Elvis versus JXL. This would probably be more of an issue if a similar caveat didn't apply to the Beatles themselves. Their penultimate UK number one, 'Get Back', was attributed to the Beatles featuring Billy Preston. Just as no-one worries about this when calculating the Beatles' tally, Elvis probably deserves the lion's share of the credit. That said, it's unlikely that the record would have appeared in the ad or got a single released in unremixed form.

The second caveat is that Elvis may not stop here. Now that the Presley estate has fully endorsed the concept of remixes once more (they did dabble with it at the time of 'Stars on 45' mania in 1982), it's not impossible that another #1 might occur. The same could be said of the Beatles too; when Paul and Ringo finally drop off, it's quite likely that an existing Beatles track might make a posthumous leap to the top of the UK charts.

The final point is one which a few papers have noted: namely, that John Lennon and Paul McCartney each appeared on 17 Beatles number ones and scored three outside the Beatles, thus meaning they have appeared on more number ones than the Cheeseburger King. True enough, but if we follow this logic to its end, Stock/Aitken/Waterman might well top the overall league table. From Gusworld's point of view, that might not be such a bad thing, but we doubt most music fans would agree.

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