In this week's chart and sales analysis, we welcome Sheryl Crow back to the party with C'mon, C'mon, the singer-songwriter's first new LP since 1998. We also memorialize the passing of Alice in Chains vocalist Layne Staley by remembering, and then celebrating, the band's musical works.
Sheryl Crow Soaks Up The Sun
After a few years of cooling her heels (and amps) in the shade, Sheryl Crow has returned to soak up the sun with her new album, C'mon, C'mon. The studio follow-up to Crow's Grammy-winning The Globe Sessions sold more than 184,000 copies last week and will enter the Billboard 200 at #2 (see "Ashanti #1 Again, Sheryl Crow Makes Big Debut On Albums Chart").
Even though C'mon, C'mon came within 6,000 copies of nudging Ashanti's self-titled debut from atop the albums chart, Crow still has plenty to crow about regarding her LP's sunny debut. By nesting at #2, C'mon, C'mon has already charted higher than any of Crow's previous albums — even surpassing the chart performance of her 1993 breakthrough, Tuesday Night Music Club.
Despite its eventual multiplatinum success, Tuesday Night Music Club enjoyed the most modest of openings upon its release that August, selling just 139 copies during its first week. Though she was well known within industry circles for her session and touring credits with the likes of Michael Jackson and the Eagles' Don Henley, it would take a while before the public would get hip to Crow's Club.
Buoyed by the initial "Leaving Las Vegas" single, Tuesday Night Music Club finally cracked the Billboard 200 in March 1994, charting at #173 on the strength of 6,000 copies sold. But it was Crow's single and video for "All I Wanna Do" that really sent the LP into flight, with TNMC climbing to #8 on the albums chart in September and October 1994. Crow's debut album would later get its biggest chart and sales push a few months later following her triple win at the Grammys. Crow took home Best New Artist honors while "All I Wanna Do" was named Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and Record of the Year.
In the weeks immediately after Crow's Grammy triple-play, Tuesday Night Music Club soared to #3 on the Billboard 200, with the record eventually notching over 4.37 million in sales to date. Following the critical and commercial success, it would take Crow over four years to release her self-titled second LP. And while Sheryl Crow never charted as high as Tuesday Night Music Club, it did fare much better out of the gate, debuting at #6 in September 1996 with 79,000 copies sold. Sheryl Crow garnered her two more Grammys — Best Rock Album and another Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for "If It Makes You Happy" — and has gone on to sell more than 2.36 million copies to date.
After being tapped to sing the theme to the 1997 James Bond flick, "Tomorrow Never Dies," Crow issued her third LP, The Globe Sessions. The record debuted even higher than Sheryl Crow had upon its release in September 1998, with Sessions selling more than 123,000 copies to spin its way up to #5 on the Billboard 200. As previously mentioned (see "Got Charts? Outkast's Grammy Outlook; Linkin Park Go For Gold"), The Globe Sessions went on to win Crow her second consecutive Grammy Award for Best Rock Album and has so far tallied 1.86 million in sales.
Despite her steady sales and chart accomplishments, Crow's successful track record was completely derailed by her 1999 concert LP, Live in Central Park. Released in December and featuring an all-star cast of guest performers — including Keith Richards, Sarah McLachlan, Eric Clapton, Stevie Nicks, Chrissie Hynde and Dixie Chicks — Live in Central Park seemed to be a safe bet as one of the bigger albums of the holiday season.
That was not to be the case, however, as Crow's Live in Central Park tanked spectacularly, debuting at just #107 on the albums chart with 28,000 copies old. The record logged only 11 weeks on the Billboard 200, never cracking the top 100 on its way to tallying just 368,000 in sales. In comparison, Crow has had three singles that have sold more than the Live in Central Park LP: "All I Wanna Do" (506,000 copies), "Strong Enough" (436,000) and "If It Makes You Happy" (504,000).
Though it failed to generate much interest, Live in Central Park, did help Crow win her fourth Best Female Rock Vocal Performance in 2001 for "There Goes the Neighborhood." Crow had also won the prior year for her cover of Guns N' Roses "Sweet Child O' Mine" that was featured on the "Big Daddy" soundtrack.
If anything, Crow helped get her footing back though a pair of recent soundtrack appearances, contributing a song to the "Bridget Jones's Diary" album (407,000 copies sold) and a stirring version of the Beatles' "Mother Nature's Son" to the "I Am Sam" soundtrack (500,000 copies).
Based upon the early returns of her new album, C'mon, C'mon will mark a full c'mback c'mback for Crow — as her new studio record should surpass the total sales of Live in Central Park in just three or four weeks. But if Crow wants to match sales of The Globe Sessions, she'll need to remain perched in the top 10 for at least a month, a task that may be tough considering the wave of new albums due out in the spring.
Regardless, having a new Sheryl Crow album out and in circulation is always a good thing. Why? Because it means new Sheryl Crow videos — and that's something that tends to make us happy.
Alice In Chains: Flowers In The Dirt
With the tragic death of Layne Staley (see "Layne Staley, Alice In Chains Singer, Dead At 34"), we find ourselves once again mourning the all-too-soon passing of one of the most talented voices of the '90s.
As frontman for Alice in Chains, Staley and his bandmates were one of the focal points of the Seattle-based grunge movement in the early '90s, along with Nirvana, Peal Jam and Soundgarden. In recent years, Alice in Chains' musical contribution and impact had often been overlooked — with attention usually focused on the lingering effects of Cobain's suicide or Pearl Jam's continued struggle with (and against) their own fame. But during their brief time, Alice in Chains burned as brightly as either — establishing their own identity and, now, leaving their own impressive legacy.
Of the three studio albums released by Alice in Chains from 1990-1995, all sold at least 1.5 million copies, led by 1992's Dirt (3.03 million), 1990's Facelift (1.96 million), and 1995's Alice in Chains (1.65 million). The band also cut two musically transitional EPs, 1992's Sap (663,000) and 1994's Jar of Flies (2.06 million). Jar of Flies and Alice in Chains both debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 in January 1994 and November 1995, respectively, with Jar of Flies becoming the first EP ever to go to #1.
Alice in Chains' installment in the Unplugged series also debuted well, charting at #3 in August 1996, and has gone on to tally more than 1.24 million in sales — becoming one of just six Unplugged albums that have sold more than a million copies (see "Got Charts? Nas Lookin' To Grow Legs; Jay-Z Unplugs").
As Staley retreated from the public eye, Alice in Chains essentially went into hibernation following the release of Unplugged, with the remaining AIC catalogue rounded out by 1999's Nothing Safe: Best of the Box (700,000 copies sold) and the Music Bank box set (86,000), 2000's Live (114,000) and 2001's Greatest Hits (114,000).
In contrast with the other Seattle grunge-groups, Soundgarden had just one #1 (1994's Superunknown), Pearl Jam has three #1 albums to their credit (1993's Vs., 1994's Vitalogy, and 1996's No Code), and Nirvana have earned four chart-topping records (1991's Nevermind, 1993's In Utero, 1994's Unplugged and 1996's From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah).
In terms of career album sales, Alice in Chains also compare favorably with the other three, with Alice having totaled more than 11.27 million in sales, according to SoundScan. Pearl Jam (who have issued over 60 live albums in the last two years) have sold a career total of 24.98 million albums, followed next by Nirvana (19.40 million) and Soundgarden (7.21 million).
With those numbers in mind, Alice in Chains' effect on rock music in the early '90s is undeniable (even if underappreciated), though their influence can be clearly heard in such contemporary acts as the Deftones, Godsmack, Staind and Creed, among others. Layne, you will be missed.
[In SoundScan we trust. All figures, unless otherwise noted, are according to SoundScan's audited sales numbers and reflect sales as of press time.]