The biggest surprise on the Billboard album chart this week isn't the
fact that hip-hop artist Mase's Harlem World debuted at the top spot.
Nor is it that Chumbawamba's Tubthumper finally kicked its way into the
top 10 and Janet Jackson's The Velvet Rope fell to #11.
While the fluctuating positions of those albums are certainly newsworthy, it is
the #3 slot taken up by the Dave Matthews Band's Live At Red Rocks: 8-15-95
that is the most surprising.
SoundScan reports that 103,000 copies of the album moved out of stores, a
considerable feat for a live album which, per the band's request, wasn't
promoted heavily and does not have a single on the radio. Live At Red Rocks:
8-15-95 is the first in a planned series of live albums designed to be
released every six months to beat bootleggers by giving fans a constant source
of high-quality live recordings.
The week's other retro-hippie-jam-session releases also did well. According to
SoundScan, Phish's Slip, Stitch and Pass swam out of stores
58,000 times, landing the group at #17 while the Grateful Dead's Fillmore
East 2-11-69 sold enough copies to take up residence at #77.
With SoundScan reported sales of 273,000, Mase's debut album, Harlem World
easily blew by the competition to capture #1. It couldn't have come at a better
time, as Mase is about to start touring arenas around the country with Puff
Daddy and the Family.
Meanwhile, the Firm, produced by Dr. Dre and the Trackmasters, featuring Nas
Escobar, Foxy Brown, Az and Nature sold 86,000 copies of The Album and
tumbled from #1 to #5, while Master P's Ghetto D fell out of the top 10,
this time landing at #12. Harlem World's closest neighbor is
torch-and-twang country sensation LeAnn Rimes, who slid back to the #2 slot
after selling 107,000 copies of You Light Up My Life - Inspirational
Breathing down Mase’s neck, though, is the red-hot Chumbawamba.
Tubthumper continued its rise to the top of the charts, with
SoundScan reporting the English anarchist musical collective earning
74,000 new fans last week. A look into the crystal ball shows that these two
pop newcomers will likely do battle next week. Music industry magazine
Radio & Recordslists their hit "Tubthumping" as the most-played song on
alternative radio and the fifth most-played song in pop radio.
It was also a pretty good week for greatest hits compilations. The Cure's
second singles collection, Galore, debuted at #32 while '80s college
rockers the Replacements landed at #143 with the two-CD set of greatest hits and
forgotten gems, All For Nothing/Nothing For All. In addition, 18,000
Doors fans snatched up copies of their Box Set, a 4-CD collection of hits
and live tracks which features the psychedelic blues rockers reunion track
(featuring an old recording of the late Jim Morrison) "Orange County Suite."
On the other hand, ex-Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth's hits collection barely
sneaked onto the charts at #199.
And while Chumbawamba and Mase seemed to find their way up the charts, many
artists experienced significant slow downs in sales this week. Janet Jackson's
The Velvet Rope fell from the #5 slot to #11 on SoundScan reported
sales of 83,000 copies. Reuters reports that Jackson has fired both her
manager and publicist after the biggest marketing campaign in Virgin Records
history failed to give The Velvet Rope sales to match 1993's janet.
Other artists losing steam this week include Green Day (down to #40 from last
week's #25), Everclear (down to #74 from last week's #55) and the Gravediggaz
(down to #48 from last week's #29).
Way off the charts, SoundScan reports that there are 15,000 audiophiles
who have access to four CD players and are interested in hearing the Flaming
Lips' Zaireeka. To get the full effect of the album, listeners have to
play the set's four CDs at the same time.
The rest of the top 10: Mariah Carey (#4), Fleetwood Mac (#6), Aqua (#7),
Soul Food Soundtrack (#9) and Boys II Men (#10).
[Wed., Nov. 5, 1997, 6:30 p.m. PST]