Any bad blood between Metallica and their fans following the 2000 Napster debacle seems to have dissipated. Released last Thursday (ahead of schedule to beat bootleggers/conjure hype), St. Anger, the band's first album of new, original material in six years, sold 418,000 copies, according to SoundScan, to debut at Number One.
The album's figure is a bit low by the band's standards, but considering that it represents a half-week of sales, it holds up to Metallica's past releases, only 6,000 copies fewer than their last release, 1998's covers record Garage Inc. And while Anger's sales pale in comparison to the band's Nineties' crossover prime -- 1991's Metallica sold 598,000 and 1996's Load moved 680,000 units -- it does suggest that years of band loyalty towards fans (the Napster mess notwithstanding) have earned Metallica a core constituency that shows little sign of erosion.
Had Anger been kept caged until its original release date, Jewel would have been this week's chart-topper. Her new electronic-minded 0304 sold 143,000 copies, which was good enough for Number Two. Amid slumping album sales, the figure actually marks a rare increase for the singer-songwriter; her last record This Way sold 140,000 copies at Number Nine two years ago.
Other top debuts included Train and Sugar Ray, but both bands will need to start rolling out hit singles for My Private Nation and In the Pursuit of Leisure to match their previous sales successes. The former is off to a better start selling 87,000 copies at Number Six, while the latter, a soundtrack for a summer that hasn't started yet, jumped in at Number Twenty-nine with sales of 32,000. Lonestar's Greatest Hits and John Mellencamp's Trouble No More also posted Top Fifty debuts, at Number Seven (80,000 copies sold) and Number Thirty-one (32,000) respectively.
Worthy of note on the DIY front is Gillian Welch's Soul Journey, which sold 10,000 copies at Number 107, issued on Welch's own Acony label, besting first-week figures by albums with major-label muscle, including Dave Gahan's Paper Monsters (Number 127, 8,000 copies sold) and the Eels Shootenanny! (Number 145, 7,500).
A rash of new albums make their way into record stores this week, several with shots at a Number One. Radiohead's Hail to the Thief looks like the best bet. The band's last album, 2001's Amnesiac sold 231,000 copies in its first week, and the band and album are receiving the usual reams of press. Steely Dan's Everything Must Go and Luther Vandross' Dance With My Father could also make a move for the top. The former earned a first-week tally of 141,000 copies with 2000's Two Against Nature, and the latter sold 135,000 week one copies of his self-titled album two years ago; a recent stroke and coma might also prompt fans to make a trip out for his latest. And St. Anger, with its first full week in stores, should also register another week of six-figure sales.
This week's Top Ten: Metallica's St. Anger; Jewel's 0304; 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin'; Evanescence's Fallen; the 2 Fast 2 Furious soundtrack; Train's My Private Nation; Lonestar's Greatest Hits; the Lizzie McGuire Movie soundtrack; Led Zeppelin's How the West Was Won; and Kelly Clarkson's Thankful.