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Isley Brothers Top the Charts

Soul men earn first Number One in twenty-five-plus years

May 14, 2003 12:00 AM ET

When sales are as low as they've been of late, anything can happen on the charts. And on this week's chart, that anything was a Number One debut for an R&B band from Cincinnati that will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary next year. The Isley Brothers' Body Kiss sold 155,000 copies, unseating 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin', which fell to Number Five with sales of 120,000.

The Isleys' album wasn't a complete surprise. Riding an endorsement by -- and production help from -- R. Kelly, the band released Eternal in 2001. The album enjoyed heartier first-week sales than Body Kiss (225,000), but in a healthier market that was only good enough for Number Three. Sales dip or no, with Body Kiss the Isleys, now a duo of Ron and Ernie Isley, achieved something they hadn't since The Heat Is On topped the charts twenty-eight years ago.

As a matter of fact, the top of the chart was a traffic jam of albums that scanned low-to-mid six-figure sales. Norah Jones' Come Away With Me elbowed its way back to Number Two with sales of 139,000, just edging surf-folkie Jack Johnson's On and On, which sold 132,000. For Johnson, the tally is a tremendous breakthrough, particularly for an album issued on his independent Moonshine Conspiracy Records. Since its release, his debut, 2001's Brushfire Fairytales, never managed to make large waves in any given week. In fact, it never really came within spitting distance of the Top Ten, but the album was a slow, steady success and helped mint an unlikely star.

The flip side of Johnson's left-field success were a few disappointments. The Matrix Reloaded got off to a tentative start at Number Eight with sales of 94,000, but with the blockbuster-to-be opening this Friday in movie theaters nationwide, expect the album to put up stronger week-two numbers. And Blur, once the great U.K. hope, have little to woo-hoo about. Think Tank, the band's first new album in three years, sold a limp 20,000 copies at Number Fifty-six, about half of the reliable 40,000 figure mustered by Britpop releases by Travis, the Doves and the like.

Next week's chart should be interesting: If Marilyn Manson puts up debut numbers as he did almost three years ago with Holy Wood (117,000 copies sold at Number Thirteen), he won't have much impact. But the buzz on The Golden Age of Grotesque has been strong, and with sales as low as they are, the shock rocker might find his way back to the top.

This week's Top Ten: the Isley Brothers' Body Kiss; Norah Jones' Come Away With Me; Jack Johnson's On and On; Cher's The Very Best of Cher; 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin'; Evanescence's Fallen; Celine Dion's One Heart; the Matrix: Reloaded soundtrack; Kelly Clarkson's Thankful; and the Lizzie McGuire Movie soundtrack.

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