Costello Specs #1: (May 1995)
The Elvis Catalogue from a Statistical Perspective
by Dave Pannell
This is the fist of a regular series of short articles for the unhealthily obsessive EC fan. We will be looking at the amazing body of Elvis releases from a statistical perspective. In this issue we examine the number of tracks of different types released over time. The tracks include all official album tracks, singles, B-sides, CD reissue bonus tracks, promo-only releases and collaborations on which Elvis shares the lead vocal. Totals for the 18 years up to the end of 1994 are shown below.
|Type of track||Number|
|Studio cover version||59|
|Live cover version||18|
The graph below shows the distribution of these releases over time. The year refers to the year of first release, not the year of recording. Each track appears once in the graph, not once for each time it was released in different formats or on different albums.
The graph clearly shows a number of trends that will not come as a surprise, but also some trends that you may not have expected. In the "expected" category, you can see the following.
- There was a consistent stream of new material released from 1977 to 1984.
- In the decade from 1984 to 1993, there was a lull in the release of tracks on average every second year.
- When Elvis is productive, he is incredibly productive. Apart from the five "silent" years (85, 87, 88, 90, 92), a quiet year sees the release of at least 20 new tracks. (77, 78, 79, 83, 84, 89). Busy years are the most common, with almost 30 to over 50 tracks in seven years (80, 81, 82, 86, 91, 93, 94).
- Over time there has been an increase in the proportion of ECís output consisting of things other than studio-recorded vocal tracks.
There are some less obvious points that may have escaped the notice even of unhealthy obsessives.
- There has not been a year when no new track became available. 1990 was close, with Thatís how you got killed before recorded with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band being the only new track released.
- Despite the silences in 1990 and 1992, the 1990s have had the highest average release rate of any part of Elvisís career. This, however, has much to do with bonus tracks on reissues of old albums, and much belated release of the Live at El Mocambo album from 1978. Nevertheless 1994 was an outstanding year in both quantity and quality.