Chart This Way

Aerosmith still cranking out hits; Maxwell, Def Squad debut in top three

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The skeptics were chattering loudly when Sony Music signed up Aerosmith for a multi- record, multi-million dollar deal a few years back. By the time the band completed the deal, critics pointed out, some of its members would be pushing sixty. No matter, the ageless wonders continue to deliver the hits. This week it's in the form of the Armageddon soundtrack, which, in its second week on the charts, became the No. 1 album in the country according to SoundScan. It knocks the City of Angels soundtrack from the top spot.

For the week ending July 5, the Armageddon soundtrack, featuring the Aerosmith hit single, "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing," as well as the band's classic "Sweet Emotion," sold 184,000 copies. That was just enough to edge out impressive first-week showings by the hip-hop supergroup Def Squad (featuring Redman, Keith Murray and Eric Sermon of EPMD), whose El Nino debuts at No. 2. Coming in a strong No. 3 is Nineties' Quiet Storm soul man Maxwell. Following up his platinum debut Urban Hang Suite, Maxwell manages to carve out some high rent space on the charts amid the soundtracks and hard-edged rappers. Maxwell's new single, "Luxury: Cococure," is already top 20 at R&B radio.

Other new records making noise are the latest by the Artist's New Power Generation (Newpower Soul at No. 22), and the California punk sounds of Rancid (Life Won't Wait at No. 35). Down at a respectable No. 65 is singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams' Car Wheels on the Gravel Road. Her record probably would have debuted even higher if all the awed music critics who've given the album the early inside track on Record of the Year actually had to buy their own copies of Gravel Road instead of getting them for free.

From the top it was Armageddon, followed by Def Squad's El Nino (selling 153,000 copies); Maxwell's Embrya (149,000); the City of Angels soundtrack (138,000); Brandy's Never Say Never (122,000); the Hope Floats soundtrack (116,000); Master P's Da Last Don (110,000); Will Smith's Big Willie Style (82,679); Backstreet Boys (82,674) and the soundtrack to Dr. Dolittle (77,000).

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