Following on from last issue’s study of the American Billboard charts, here’s a look at which AAA albums spent the most weeks on the chart. The curious among you may want to compare this top ten list with the one we made about the UK charts in News, Views and Music Issue 138, although the differences aren’t quite so staggering this time around. This time around no less than four albums (or their US equivalents) are the same (albeit in slightly different orders), although I bet the number one album (which just missed the UK list) will surprise the hell out of most of you. What’s also noticeable is how much smaller the chart runs of these albums are in America compared to Britain – the winner of this list has a total of just 18 weeks at number one, compared to 33 weeks of our last list. Where would the Spice Girls come? Erm, fourth on this list. Well the Americans still have more taste than the British where the girl band from hell scored highly on both the albums and the singles lists!
1) The Monkees “More Of The Monkees” (18 weeks, 1966-67)
We thought Monkeemania reached monumental proportions in Britain, but it seems to have gone even more out of control in America. What’s even more impressive is that this album covers the Christmas period, traditionally the time when albums from the sixties were sold in huge volumes – the fact that this album continued to sell through January and February 1967 (perhaps with money given to teens and pre-teens for Christmas this year) shows just how popular The Monkees were. This troubled second album, generally regarded as the band’s weakest, came at a time when the band had so little control over their own music they actually had to buy a copy whilst on tour to find out what had been put on the album. No doubt sales were helped by the presence of single ‘I’m A Believer’, a single that made the US list but no the UK one. In Britain the Monkees’ sales tailed off very quickly after the first TV series ended, but in America the band had four number one albums in a row and would have had a fifth had The White Album not kept ‘The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees’ off number one.
2) Pink Floyd “The Wall” (15 weeks, 1980)
A surprisingly late entry compared to the rest of the entries on the chart, ‘The Wall’ actually beats Dark Side Of The Moon’ in America (which never actually got to number one). Record label EMI were said to be furious that the band dared to release a double album concept piece that ends with a Gilbert and Sullivan pastiche and basically insults every fan who ever bought a Pink Floyd album – but what do they know? ‘The Wall’ was a big seller everywhere. And a good thing too – had the album flopped the band would have been flat broke after a series of dodgy business deals that went wrong. No doubt sales were helped by the presence of hit single ‘Another Brick In The Wall Part 2’, which just missed out on an entry in our American singles top 10 last week, although the sites that tell you the film version of The Wall helped sales are wrong (it didn’t come out until 1982).
3) The Beatles “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” (15 weeks, 1967)
A perennial seller, I’ve already mentioned umpteem times on this site how ‘Sgt Peppers’ was so much the perfect album of its day that it sounds horribly wrong now in the 21st century, in a way that none of the fab four’s other creations do. It’s also the first of the albums that are also on the UK list (with 27 weeks – over half a year!), where both albums come in third place curiously. There are no hit singles to explain the success this time around, but which age group didn’t buy an album that was eagerly awaited by the youth market and considered serious enough to get a proper music review in The Times?
4) The Beatles “A Hard Day’s Night” (14 weeks, 1964)
A slightly earlier Beatles entry for you now, the band’s third album which no doubt made the list on the back of two #1 singles (the title track and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’) and the must-see film of the same name that still ranks amongst the best cost-to-profit ratios of films ever made (united Artists figured the Beatles bubble of 1963 would be over long before the summer of 1964 and didn’t want to spend too much money on it!)
5) The Monkees “The Monkees” (13 weeks, 1966)
The first Monkees album this time and another entry that only just missed out on a UK top 10 listing. This album was no doubt spurred on by the presence of hit single ‘Last Train To Clarksville’, The Monkees theme tune and plugging in the band’s first TV series every week for three months straight. If ever you wanted evidence about how powerful multimedia marketing could be then this is it – the number one tally for this record in the charts fits in nicely for when exactly ‘Last Train To Clarksville’ was on the air.
6) The Beatles “Meet The Beatles” (11 weeks, 1964)
The Europeans among you may not have a clue what this album is and some younger American collectors may not know either. Basically its the American equivalent of first album ‘Please Please Me’ with a few tracks removed (by only releasing 8 or 9 songs an LP instead of 12-14 the American company Capitol milked an extra three LPs out of the Beatles’ sales). Impressively the original album actually did better in the UK charts, where this album came in at no 2 with 30 weeks (or 7 ½ months!) at the top of the charts, despite the lack of Meet The Beatles’ addition of multi-million selling single ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, the song that broke the Beatles in the US.
7) The Beatles “Abbey Road” (11 weeks, 1969)
The Beatles’ swansong and another album to make both UK and US lists. Despite the poor showing of double A side Come Together and Something (which – shock horror – only made no 3), this album was a strong seller everywhere – partly because of that iconic cover and partly because everyone buying it knew they wouldn’t be able to buy another album with the four together (well, not till EMI started sticking out rubbishly packaged compilation albums anyway). In the UK chart ‘Abbey Road’ made number 4 with an impressive 27 weeks on the chart. And you thought 11 was a long time to be number one!
8) Simon and Garfunkel “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (10 weeks, 1970)
How the mighty hath fallen. In the UK ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ was the AAA album with the most weeks at number one (a mind-boggling 33!) and is still high up the lists of all records with that statistic (cure you, Adele, for knocking another one of my heroes out of the Guinness Book of World Records!) Surely, though, ‘Bridge’ must have done even better in Simon and Garfunkel’s homeland? Surprisingly not, with the album only making number eight on the list and a – comparatively – humble 10 weeks on the chart. I mean two and a half months, that’s just not trying!
9) Janis Joplin “Pearl” (9 weeks, 1970)
Janis’ posthumous album only made the UK number one spot for a single week, but in her homeland of America where Joplin was taken to so many people’s hearts she was mourned a lot longer. Janis got within a whisker of finishing this, only her fourth album, before her death at the age of 27 and though not my favourite of Janis’ albums you can see why it fitted the ‘look what we’ve lost’ memorial reviews so well (she had just one lead vocal to go before finishing the album – the backing track ‘Buried Alive In The Blues’ is left intact as a rather spooky reminder of what could have been).Sales were no doubt helped by two posthumous single hits: Kris Kristoffersen’s ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ and ‘Mercedes Benz’
10) Rolling Stones “Tattoo You” (9 weeks, 1970)
The observant among you will note that there hasn’t been a Rolling Stones entry on this list yet – in stark contrast to the UK list where they got two high entries – and you might have been wondering which of their acclaimed albums it is. ‘Rolling Stones’ all swamp rock and innocence, the steely ‘Beggar’s Banquet’, the high profile ‘Let It Bleed’, the bridesmaid in these lists ‘Sticky Fingers’ or the well worn ‘Exile On Main Street’? Actually, its none of these – its the outtakes-mixes-with-newbies marking time set ‘Tattoo You’, complete with its grotesque cover and minimal packaging. Even the presence of the Stones’ last big hit ‘Start Me Up’ ( a song begun and discarded as long ago as 1975 would you believe?) can’t explain that anomaly!
And that’s all for another week. Tune in next week, same station, same time – and don’t touch that dial! (You never know who else might have used it!)