This week’s album chart is more or less another snoozer. Adele slides back into the top spot with 21, moving 77,000 units in a slow release week. Four albums debut in the Top 10: the 20th installment of the Kidz Bop series starts at #2, veteran rock at 3 Doors Down (appropriately) starts at #3, hip-hop kingpin DJ Khaled starts at #5, and stoner-rock legends 311 enter at #7. The biggest news on this week’s chart comes not from this week’s new releases, but from the fact that Amy Winehouse’s album Back to Black re-enters the album charts at #9. Of course, this re-entry is due to Winehouse’s untimely passing on Saturday. It’s worth mentioning that her death only affected about a day and a half of the tracking week, so expect that number to rise next week.
In lieu of a major chart story, we’re gonna hop into the wayback machine and head back to a time before Winehouse was even born. Ronald Reagan had only been president for a few months (and had already survived an assassination attempt), the Iran hostages were safely home, and those of us who weren’t a gleam in our daddies’ collective eyes were mere toddlers: let’s check out the album chart for the week of July 11th, 1981!
Top 20 Albums:
1) Mistaken Identity | Kim Carnes
2) Hi Infidelity | REO Speedwagon
3) Long Distance Voyager | Moody Blues
4) Paradise Theatre | Styx
5) Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap | AC/DC
6) Hard Promises | Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
7) Face Value | Phil Collins
8) Street Songs | Rick James
9) Stars on Long Play | Stars on Long Play
10) Zebop! | Santana
11) Somewhere in England | George Harrison
12) Moving Pictures | Rush
13) Fair Warning | Van Halen
14) The One That You Love | Air Supply
15) Arc of a Diver | Steve Winwood
16) Share Your Love | Kenny Rogers
17) Christopher Cross | Christopher Cross
18) Being With You | Smokey Robinson
19) Winelight | Grover Washington, Jr.
20) Working Class Dog | Rick Springfield
The Billboard charts at this time definitely had a “guy rock” flavor. Most of the acts in the Top 20 wouldn’t be out of place on either a classic rock or an adult contemporary station. Even the highest-ranked R&B act (Rick James) had a definite rock and roll swagger to his image and music. Interestingly, the only female artist in the top twenty is at pole position. Kim Carnes, riding the success of her smash “Bette Davis Eyes” (which also ranked at the top of the singles chart this week), scored her biggest hit album with Mistaken Identity. For the record, there were only four female solo acts in the entire Top 40-Carnes, Roseanne Cash, Chaka Khan and Grace Jones. It’s a long way from the current female-dominated pop charts.
Back in these days, albums rarely debuted in the Top Twenty, let alone at #1, so the entry of Kenny Rogers’ Share Your Love at #16 was a pretty big deal. Rogers was coming off of his mega-smash “Lady” and a Greatest Hits album which spent many weeks at #1. “Lady” was written by Lionel Richie, and Kenny was so taken with the song’s success that he invited Lionel back to write four songs on Share Your Love. One of those songs, “Goin’ Back to Alabama”, wasn’t a hit, but was still notable because it featured Michael Jackson joining Lionel and Kenny on background vocals.
Although a good chunk of the albums in this particular Top 20 can be found at dirt cheap prices in your local record store, there are a few classics to be found here. In addition to Rick James’ magnum opus, Street Songs (which briefly held the record as the second biggest selling album ever by a black artist following Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall), AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap is fondly remembered by many, as is Phil Collins’ maiden voyage as a solo act, Face Value. Even albums like REO Speedwagon’s Hi Infidelity (which just received a 30th anniversary reissue) and Rush’s Moving Pictures make up for the presence of novelty albums like Stars on Long Play, a record filled with novelty re-recorded medleys of songs that were popular mostly in the Sixties.
I’m not exactly sure who Eric Church, but HITS Daily Double is telling me that he’ll debut at the top of the album chart next week with a fairly impressive 130K. Country folks don’t use torrents, folks. Kelly Rowland is also expected to make a solid debut in the 75K range. The following week, all bets are off as Kanye West and Jay-Z’s Watch the Throne will enter with what will likely be the highest-ever first week number for a digital only release.