Velvet Revolver Blast Usher Off #1 Perch

Contraband sells more than 256,000 copies its first week out.

Usher has been rocked at retail.

Selling more than 256,000 copies of Contraband in its first week out, Velvet Revolver will take Mr. Entertainment down a peg on next week’s Billboard albums chart. The hit single “Slither,” a ready-made fanbase and a boatload of press combined to give the band — which includes former members of Guns N’ Roses and ex-Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland — a #1 placement for its debut album.

Proof that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, Contraband beat the combined first-week sales of the latest releases by both GN’R and STP (both were greatest-hits collections) by more than 41,000 copies.

Usher’s Confessions shouldn’t take the hit to heart. The more than 170,000 copies it sold last week has bumped the album’s total sales beyond the 4 million mark. Usher may not be far from the hot seat for too long, since a re-release of the album, with at least three new songs, is on the horizon, according to producer Jermaine Dupri (see “Usher, Alicia Keys Record Duet” ).

Avril Lavigne’s Under My Skin is showing some staying power after three weeks on the chart. Without a U.S. tour, only a smattering of radio festivals and emphasis given to just one, three-month-old single (“Don’t Tell Me”), the album will slip one spot to #3, having sold more than 121,000 copies.

Another steadfast woman, country singer Gretchen Wilson, is showing similar staying power with Here for the Party, which will step back one place to #4, with more than 91,000 copies sold in its fifth week on shelves.

The #7 spot has been seeing a bit of 311 recently. Less than a year after their latest studio album, Evolver, debuted there, the reggae-inspired quintet’s decade retrospective, Greatest Hits ’93-’03, will follow suit, albeit with 23,000 fewer copies sold.

Perhaps fans gearing up for this year’s Warped Tour, kicking off June 25, did so with the 2004 Warped Tour album. Featuring a sampling from this year’s lineup — New Found Glory, NOFX, Thursday, Yellowcard and others — the 52-track LP sold more than 60,000 copies to take the #8 spot.

The remainder of next week’s top 10 finds Prince’s Musicology continuing its strong showing, though receding one spot to #5 (with more than 72,000 copies sold); Hoobastank’s The Reason holding on to the #6 spot for the third straight week and selling more than 66,000 copies; D12′s D12 World falling two spots to #9 (59,000); and Slipknot’s Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) dropping five places to #10 (58,000).

Los Lonely Boys and the Black Eyed Peas continue to benefit from recent exposure. Trailed by a spate of great reviews while on their current tour, the Texas trio’s self-titled debut has been on a hot streak in the last three weeks, moving from #31 to #23 to #13; while the Black Eyed Peas’ “Let’s Get It Started,” the theme to this year’s NBA Finals, helped Elephunk advance seven spots to #14 with 43,000 copies sold adding to its 1.3 million total.

Even a marriage to J. Lo couldn’t spark sales for Marc Anthony. The Latin singer’s latest, Amar Sin Mentiras, released just days after he wed Jennifer Lopez, will place at #26, 23 spots higher than his last Spanish-language LP, 2001′s Libre, though with 17,000 fewer copies.

Modest Mouse and Franz Ferdinand are still tolling the bell for the aggro nü-metal that once dominated radio airwaves. After more than two months in stores, both bands’ albums, Good News for People Who Love Bad News at #21 and Franz Ferdinand at #43, have shown steady improvement in the last three weeks.

Other notable chart debuts include country trio SheDaisy’s Sweet Right Here at #16; punk chanteuse PJ Harvey’s Uh Huh Her at #29; SoCal punk vets and Warped Tour headliners Bad Religion’s The Empire Strikes First at #40; the Calling’s second album, Two, at #54; Punk-O-Rama Vol. 9, featuring Pennywise, Rancid and the Bouncing Souls, at #67; Sonic Youth’s Sonic Nurse at #70; A–hole, the new solo album from Kiss’ Gene Simmons, at #86; Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, the major-label debut by New Jersey emocore group My Chemical Romance, at #103; and turntablists the X-ecutioners’ Revolutions at #118.