The Mac Back At #1 With The Dance

This week's Billboard album chart served as a solid reminder that

nostalgia often wins out over innovation in the music-buying minds of the

American public.

In the same week that The Dance, the reunion album by the classic line-up of '70s icons Fleetwood Mac, skyrocketed to #1 in its first week, the Prodigy's electronica-boundary crashing Fat of the Land fell out of the top 10 for the first time since it debuted in the top slot for the week ending July 6.

In its first week of release, The Dance sold 199,000 copies, according to SoundScan. That was enough to bump twice kingpin Puff Daddy down to #2. His No Way Out sold 167,000 copies.

Much like the mega-profitable reunion launched by the Eagles with their

1994 album Hell Freezes Over, the Mac have kicked off their upcoming

tour with an album that features new live performances of the band's

biggest-selling tunes. While The Dance also includes four newly penned

tracks, much of its popularity capitalizes on a longing for the group's

halcyon days two decades ago.

Of course, much of the attention given to the reformed Mac will focus on

this year's 20th anniversary of their phenomenally successful Rumours album. Rumours, which included the giant hits "Dreams," "Don't Stop," which was chosen as Bill Clinton's campaign theme song for the '92 election, and "You Make Loving Fun" became a benchmark record of the period. The album was highlighted by the songwriting skills of guitarist Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, who at the time the album was being created were in the

process of ending their relationship. The tension between the two was captured expertly on Buckingham's hit single "Go Your Own Way."

Rumours has since become a hallmark of recording history, having

sold close to 20 million copies worldwide. Thanks to rekindled interest in

the band, this week the album landed at #7 on Billboard's catalog

chart. (The band's Greatest Hits took the #1 spot.)

As Fleetwood Mac were busy reclaiming their hit-maker status, electronica

sensations the Prodigy dropped out of the top 10 for the first time in

seven weeks. The Fat of the Land fell to #11 on sales of 75,000.

Nonetheless, the band is still venturing into uncharted territory for a

techno dance group in America. Total sales for Fat of the Land have now

reached 870,000 copies. If the album continues to sell as it has for the

past two months, it will reach the 1 million platinum mark in two weeks.

Aside from the Mac, high debut honors also went to piano man Billy Joel. His

Greatest Hits Vol. III, including a new cover of Bob Dylan's "To

Bring You My Love," landed at #9 on sales of 90,000.

Elsewhere in the top 10, the Lilith Fair's two primary draws continued to

do well as that tour closed up shop for the year. Jewel's Pieces of

You ranked #8 on sales of 93,000, while headliner Sarah McLachlan hit

#10 with 86,000.

There were a number of notable jumps made this week by both recent chart

entries as well as a few old-timers. Elvis Presley's new four-CD set

Platinum: A Life in Music bounced a whopping 73 positions, from 155

to 82, no doubt thanks to the attention the King received around the

20th anniversary of his death. Smash Mouth, meanwhile, continued their

steady rise with help from the modern rock hit "Walkin' on the Sun." The

band's album Fush Yu Mang climbed 21 spots to #53.

Rage Against the Machine's year-old Evil Empire continued to reap

the rewards of the band's tour with the Wu-Tang Clan. The album jumped 23

spots (181 to 158). (The Wu-Tang themselves actually fell four notches to

#34.) And for whatever reason, Tracey Chapman's New Beginning rose

16 places (176 to 160).

The big news next week is sure to be the debut of Oasis' third album Be

Here Now. Now that the album has established itself as the fastest

selling in British history, all eyes are focused on the States to see how

the Gallagher brothers will fare here.

Completing this week's top 10 are: Spice Girls (#3), Men In Black

(#4), Matchbox 20 (#5), Hanson (#6) and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (#7). [Wed., Aug. 27, 1997, 5 p.m. PST]