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Isley Brothers Top the Charts

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

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
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
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
, 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
, 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
(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
; 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

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