Kiss Planted Near Big Top With Psycho-Circus

Marilyn Manson's Mechanical Animals slips to #5; Lauryn Hill reclaims #1 spot.

When the original lineup of '70s rock-giants Kiss reunited in 1996, makeup and all, for full-scale, blood-dripping, fire-breathing arena extravaganzas, their fans rewarded the colorful quartet by making the tour one of the year's most successful outings.

On Tuesday, the original members of Kiss released Psycho-Circus, and their fans, old and new, came through once again, sending the album to the #3 spot on this week's Billboard 200 albums chart.

Psycho-Circus, Kiss' 21st album, is the first recording since the group's 1979 album, Dynasty, to boast the band's original lineup -- drummer Peter Criss, guitarist Ace Frehley, bassist Gene Simmons and singer/guitarist Paul Stanley. According to SoundScan, the organization that tracks album sales, about 109,000 copies of Psycho-Circus were sold in the week ending Sunday.

To follow up on the album's release, Kiss will be heading out on another tour this year, including a much-anticipated Halloween-night show in Los Angeles, with superstar, post-grunge group Smashing Pumpkins scheduled to open the bill.

Coming in just behind Kiss are Christian rappers/rockers dc Talk. Their Supernatural moved 106,000 copies and was hot on Kiss' trademark 8-inch boot-heels at #4. In similarly titled news, Super Natural, from rock group Everything, dropped from #173 to #192, while Supernatural, from R&B singer Des'ree, dropped off the charts altogether.

The week's other top-10 debut belongs to R&B singer Keith Sweat, whose Still In The Game kicked in at #6.

With three debuts in the top 10, some rearranging of chart positions was inevitable.

Last week's #1, Mechanical Animals, from recently reborn glam-rocker Marilyn Manson, dropped to #5 with sales of 98,000, bringing his two-week total to 321,000. That left room for Fugees rapper/singer Lauryn Hill to take her smash-selling The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill to the top spot once again, moving 168,000 copies this week for a total of 1.3 million sold since its release five weeks ago.

Hill was followed at #2 by 'N Sync's self-titled debut, up from #5 last week. Further down the charts, Hootie and the Blowfish's Musical Chairs, last week's #4, tumbled to #12 on sales of 75,000, bringing its two-week total to 185,000.

Hole's Celebrity Skin fell out of the top 10 for the first time since its release three weeks ago, slipping from #10 to #22. Though the album's title track (RealAudio excerpt) continues to get strong radio-support, sales for the album dropped from 80,000 last week to 55,000 this week, bringing Courtney Love and company's total up to 221,000. Among the other artists seeing substantial chart-drops this week were swing-revivalists Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, whose self-titled debut slid from #52 to #82, and popular rapper Wyclef Jean, whose The Carnival tumbled from #137 to #173.

Among other notable albums making their first impact on the charts this week was The Imperial, from the rap posse Flipmode Squad, which hit #15.

"We trying to do everything to hit in every area -- universal, underground, market-friendly, happy radio-sh--," group member Rampage said earlier this year of Flipmode Squad's goals for The Imperial. "We was trying to hit every globe, every land, every sea, every bridge -- everything." Though many of the 71,000 copies sold last week probably went to people excited to hear new songs from group member Busta Rhymes, it should also be noted that the entire posse made a name for itself performing such songs as "Cha Cha Cha" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Everybody on the Line Outside" (RealAudio excerpt) on this year's all-star, rap-centric Smokin' Grooves tour.

Falling just behind the hyperactive rappers in Flipmode Squad was the pop-rock trio Goo Goo Dolls. Dizzy Up The Girl, its sixth album, sold 65,000 copies to come in at #17.

The group was a part of a small controversy two weeks ago when New York City-based radio shock-jock Howard Stern persuaded his station, K-Rock, to ban the Goo Goo Dolls from its playlist until the group agreed to perform a song on his show while men in sailor suits and G-strings danced around the studio, a stunt devised because Stern said he thought the band's music was "gay." On Sept. 24, the group performed its hit "Iris" (RealAudio excerpt) on the show and Stern got his wish as a parade of gay men in thongs pranced around the studio.

This week's other big debuts came in further down the charts. Rock-crooner Chris Isaak's Speak Of The Devil landed at #41, while country-rock singer Lyle Lovett tipped his cowboy hat at #55 with Step Inside This House. Meanwhile, celebrated hip-hop lyricist Ras Kass came in at #63 with his Rasassination.

Big-beat stars the Chemical Brothers landed at #95 with a mix project, Brothers Gonna Work It Out, while newly re-formed rockers Sunny Day Real Estate bowed at #132 with How It Feels to Be Something On. Just barely making it onto the charts this week at #191 was No Pain No Gain, from the rough-edged, rapping, Houston-based twin-sister act Ghetto Twiinz.

The rest of the top 10: Beastie Boys, Hello Nasty (#7); various artists, Rush Hour soundtrack (#8); Barenaked Ladies, Stunt (#9); and Shania Twain, Come On Over (#10).