Dark horse strong sellers
Loopholes and budget albums of minor labels from recent years sold low numbers. Putting some light on their sales figures thanks to Discogs statistics is amazing enough already. Their data reveals much more though: Presley has many hidden blockbusters.
UK sales of Camden albums
Camden / Pickwick budget releases of Presley were strong sellers in the US. The Christmas Album from 1970 went Diamond, You’ll Never Walk Alone sold over 3 million and 7 more albums made it to Platinum. What about their UK sales though?
Through the years, they were allowed and excluded from charts multiple times. Most of the time we have no complete chart history for them though. A few went Gold, Elvis’ Christmas Album, I Got Lucky, Separate Ways, Easy Come Easy Go, and The U.S. Male. These certifications have two strong restrictions though. They start in 1973, so several of them are certified for their mid-70s reissues only, while You’ll Never Walk Alone and Burning Love and Sings Hits From His Movies Vol One were never audited at all since they dropped earlier. As they were also excluded from charts, we have (had) no idea of their sales. Then, awards were based on gross and they were sold fairly cheaply. Camden albums from 1975 used to be priced £1.15, which implies over 250,000 units sold to be Gold, although they were certified in 1978 so the price was likely already higher.
Still, these Camden releases were enormous sellers during the 70s in the UK. Incredibly, the 7 previously listed records all have more than 1,000 owners in the UK. Chart runs from comparable releases that were allowed to chart from that period suggest each owner from Discogs represents around 150 buyers. Elvis’ Christmas Album, estimated at 550,000 units for the Camden release only, has a tremendous 3,374 owners. It’s even more impressive when we consider that Christmas releases have proportionally less collectors. Separate Ways follows at 1,737, which implies over 350,000 units sold in the UK. You’ll Never Walk Alone is the 3rd strongest at 1,597 owners, meaning an estimated 325,000 units sold. As of now, it was often granted with no sale at all in the UK since it never charted and remained uncertified.
The remaining 4 albums follow with 250,000 to 300,000 units sold a piece. As it wasn’t enough, 2-LP packages came out in the second part of the 70s. The pack containing You’ll Never Walk Alone and Sings Hits From His Movies Vol One shifted 160,000 units. All in all, Camden albums from the LP era stand on a stunning 3,59 million units sold in the UK alone. That doesn’t consider the few more recent albums. One of them, 1999’s Love Songs, sold close to 300,000 units to date in the UK and as many elsewhere.
Remaining sales of Camden albums
Discogs statistics tell us that these albums sold a combined 1,25 million units in Canada although most of them weren’t allowed to chart. In Australia, the 9 US Platinum plus releases have from 50 to 150 owners each, meaning an average of 20,000 sales per disc. In France, the US flop Easy Come Easy Go has an unreal 1,233 owners. It was issued by Impact there, as their first volume, moving past 400,000 units. Two more Camden albums did well thanks to Impact releases. They are You’ll Never Walk Alone (150,000 sales) and Sings Flaming Star (130,000). Remaining albums were much more modest sellers though.
In Germany, they were all released although their sales were limited at 50,000 to 100,000 units per album. In countries from Latin America, Italy, Spain, and Japan, they weren’t always released. They combine for relatively few sales outside of the main markets.
The result is still amazing. The 12 Camden albums released from 1968 to 1975 sold over 24 million in the US and climb to 31,7 million with sales abroad. That’s an average of over 2,5 million units per release at a rate of 2 releases per year.
K-Tel 1976-1985 releases
While most of them had very minor impact in the US, K-Tel budget compilations were strong in Europe and some other parts of the world. It all started in 1976 with Les 40 Plus Grands Succés, a compilation issued only in Canada, France and Spain. In the former country, it has 215 owners. As a comparison point, Moody Blue from 1977, which sold an estimated 260,000 units to date, has 568. The 1976 release sold a calculated 100,000 units, all of which in Québec, a region that wasn’t accounted for into RPM Charts of Canada. In France, the album has 929 owners. The only albums of Presley with more in this country are Forever and Easy Come Easy Go, at close to 1,300 each, both of which sold over 400,000 as confirmed by the SNEP. It’s also the 4th most owned album of the legendary singer in Spain. This album sold 550,000 copies from 3 countries only while remaining completely overlooked up to now.
In 1979, Love Songs was issued. That one smashed charts of multiple countries. Discogs’ database proves it did well virtually everywhere. Even if it remains uncertified in the US, it sold 1,79 million globally. One year later, Inspirations sold 480,000 copies with no US release. In 1985, Ballads did 320,000, still with no US release.
In Canada, the highest certified compilation album of Presley from the LP era is A Canadian Tribute at 2xPlatinum for 200,000 sales. It got there very quickly, ultimately climbing close to 300,000 sales. It has 883 owners. While sales of this album were already known, the huge news is that the 1973 Elvis set by Brookville has 1,033 owners there. It was even bigger than in the US proportionally speaking. Calculations conclude on 440,000 units sold for it. There is more. We already mentioned the 100,000 units seller in Québec Les 40 Plus Grands Succés, but then the Canada-only Elvis Forever from 1974 also did wonders. With 554 owners, it sold well past 200,000 copies there.
While the Australian market remained quite low until the 80s, disabling chances of truly high sales, the top performers from Presley are still a real surprise. His two most owned albums there are the two volumes of Rock ‘N’ On from 1973. They both went Platinum for 70,000 in 1987. The first one is close to 2xPlatinum with 60% more sales than its follow-up according to Discogs.
First of all, please remember that German releases were often sold across most of continental Europe, explaining why they got so many owners in comparison to their German-only sales.
The only album that RCA certified there back in the day was Forever at Platinum status, 500,000 units, up to 1978. It is also his most owned album at Discogs which is as usual perfectly in line with known sales data. It has a mind-blowing 3,561 owners there. While strong sales of this album aren’t a surprise, here comes an incredible statistic: remaining 70s compilations A Portrait In Music, 40 Greatest Hits and 20 Fantastic Hits combine for 4,780 owners. That implies a huge estimated tally of 875,000 sales in Germany. A pair of 1976 releases, Forever 2 and In Hollywood, also combine for 1,088 owners and an estimated 175,000 sales. All these hidden strong sellers from the 70s help the artist to jump over 8 million album sales in Germany.
One of Presley‘s worst markets, Italy brings us an atypical set of results. The two most owned LPs from there are two records that weren’t allowed to chart. The leader is Elvis Forever with a solid 472 owners, implying around 125,000 sales. That’s more than we could have guessed for him there. The distant runner up is the surprising Pure Gold, a strong seller in the US that wasn’t released in most countries but did a good 50,000 in Italy.
Strong 70s compilations in the Netherlands were roughly the same as the ones from Germany. When all 3 albums Forever, 20 Fantastic Hits and A Portrait In Music went Platinum for 100,000 sales in 1978 it was kind of a surprise. While the former was a huge hit on charts, the latter peaked at #19 and charted for only two weeks in 1969. Truth is, it continued selling, especially after his passing, although it wasn’t allowed to chart due to pricing rules. On its side, 20 Fantastic Hits hasn’t chart at all for the same reason.
Discogs confirms how much they sold. Forever has a gigantic 1,959 owners from this market, good enough for an estimated 280,000 sales which is truly phenomenal in the Netherlands. The other two compilations add for 1,754 owners, converted into 245,000 units sold.
Latin American blockbusters
Sales of Presley in Brazil are no doubt impressive. Although the market was late to the LPs party, he got a trio of 100,000 units selling records. They are Disco de Ouro from 1977, estimated at 210,000 copies sold, 40 Greatest Hits at 175,000 and 10 Anos De Saudades (1987) at 100,000. To know his best performing records in Brazil would have been impossible without the help of Discogs. Obviously, I’m focusing on LPs since ELV1S 30 #1 Hits is his top seller there with a massive 325,000 units sold to date.
In Mexico his results are very low as expected. The 2002 best of appears to be his only Gold-eligible album. He got a string of 2-30,000 sellers, including the 1984 local compilation 30 Años De Musica Rock – Salvat. In Argentina, ELV1S 30 #1 Hits and The Essential Collection lead the way with over 75,000 units each.