"Chart Beat" columnist Fred Bronson answers readers' questions about Elvis Presley, the U.K. "NOW" compilation series, and Ace Of Base.

THE GAP

Dear Mr. Bronson:

Elvis Presley's greatest hits package ("ELV1S: 30 #1 Hits") has now been No. 1 for three consecutive weeks on the Billboard album chart. In light of the fact that his first LP, "Elvis Presley," topped the charts back in April 1956 (simultaneously with the No. 1 hit "Heartbreak Hotel" on the singles chart), I am wondering if the King has established a new record.

Which artist or group holds the record for the longest time gap between their first and last No. 1 albums? I would think Elvis has this record as it is now 46 years. Could you please let us Elvis fans know?

Thank you so much. The column and trivia questions are great!!

Sincerely,

Michael Cavino
New York

Dear Michael,

When his latest album went to No. 1 on The Billboard 200, Elvis Presley became the artist with the longest span of chart-topping albums. "Elvis Presley" went to No. 1 the week of May 5, 1956, so the span between that album and "Elvis: 30 #1 Hits" is 46 years, five months, and three weeks.

Before Presley claimed this record, it was held by the Beatles. Their span of No. 1 albums stretches from "Meet the Beatles," which reached the top the week of Feb. 15, 1964, to "1," which fell from pole position the week of Feb. 3, 2001, for a total of 36 years, 11 months, and two weeks.



SERIES ENDING? NOT NOW!

Dear Fred,

I am a long time fan and trivia nut. I have all but two of the British versions of the "NOW" series from Vol. 28 through Vol. 51. I have been to all of the Internet sites that sell imported CDs and no one has Vol. 52. In fact, I would think that they should be up to Vol. 53 or 54 by now. Did they end the series? If so, why end it at 51? If I understand correctly, all of the volumes have hit No. 1 in the U.K., except Vol. 4 (which ironically is the first volume number to hit No. 1 in the U.S.). If the series is so successful, why end it now?

Keep up the good work.

Ed Farley
Apopka, Fla.
wfarley@cfl.rr.com

Dear Ed,

I know "NOW 52" exists, because I have a copy. It was released in the U.K. on July 22, and like all in the series (except Vol. 4, as you point out), it topped the compilation chart. "NOW 53" is already scheduled for release, on Nov. 18. There are three albums a year in the series, one in the spring, one in the summer, and one just before the holiday season. So we can already predict that "NOW 56" will be out in time for Christmas 2003, "NOW 59" for Christmas 2004, and the number will roll over to "NOW 60" in the spring of 2005.

At this rate, the U.S. "NOW" series will never catch up with its British cousin, but we should be grateful the series was started at all domestically.

The "NOW" series is enormously successful, and there's no indication at all that it will be coming to an end. There should be an impressive marketing campaign for "NOW 100" in the summer of 2018.

Back to "NOW 52," though: I checked some U.K. Internet sites and they all had this volume for sale. You shouldn't have a problem finding it.



COVERING THE BASES

Hi Fred,

I was wondering if you have heard the new Ace Of Base album, "Da Capo," yet. I know you loved their last album (I did as well), but I think this one is even better. I think their songwriting has improved immensely and the production is flawless. There are several songs I think are good enough for singles, especially the ballad "Ordinary Day" and the Scandinavian version of "Hey Darling." If you've heard it, I'm curious to know your thoughts.

Also, what did you think of H & Claire's "DJ"? I was a big Steps fan also. I E-mailed you a few years ago about them and your positive words prompted me to get their first CD, which was the beginning of my Steps collection.

Thanks,

Chris Wurster

Dear Chris,

I have heard "Da Capo," and "Chart Beat" readers can hear it, too -- at least, the title track, which will be featured on the Oct. 26 edition of "The Billboard Radio Countdown," scheduled to be posted on www.billboardradio.com on Wednesday, Oct. 23.

I do like the album -- in fact, I had a difficult time selecting which track to play on "The Billboard Radio Countdown." I think Ace Of Base's cover of Black's "Wonderful Life" is one of the outstanding tracks, too.

So far, in my estimation, it's not a better album than "Cruel Summer" (known as "Flowers" in Europe), which was my No. 1 album of 1998. But it's still pretty damn good.

I don't think former Steps members H & Claire have quite hit the mark since stepping out on their own, although I think the song "DJ" was terrific. When I was in Stockholm in February, I interviewed songwriter Paul Rein for the fifth edition of "The Billboard Book of Number One Hits" (he is co-writer on Christina Aguilera's "Come On Over Baby"). We were sitting in the lobby of the Grand Hotel when he played me a song on his laptop -- it was the demo of "DJ," and that's when he told me it had been recorded by H & Claire.

Maybe this ex-Steps duo will have their biggest hit with their next single -- a version of a song written by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA, "Another You, Another Me" (first recorded by another duo, the Swedish brother-and-sister act Gemini).