The third time is the charm for Rod Stewart, who with his latest collection of standards sits at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 for the first time in more than 25 years. The artist's new J Records release

The third time is the charm for Rod Stewart, who with his latest collection of standards sits at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 for the first time in more than 25 years. The artist's new J Records release, "Stardust...The Great American Songbook, Vol. 3," opened with first-week sales of 240,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

"Best of all for me is how much the public loves these albums, but I cannot deny that being No. 1 has put a big smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye," Stewart says in a statement released today (Oct. 27). "I feel boundlessly grateful that these miraculous songs continue to thrill, and tip my hat to the great talents who wrote the songs that have become the 'Great American Songbook.'"

Stewart's last chart-topping album was his 1978 set "Blondes Have More Fun," which sat at the summit for three weeks. The Warner Bros. album boasted the No. 1 Hot 100 hit "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?"

Stewart's first "Great American Songbook" album, 2002's "It Had to Be You...," opened at No. 4 on The Billboard 200, while 2003's second installment, "As Time Goes By..." bowed at No. 2. Together, they have sold 4.7 million copies.

This week, "It Had to Be You..." makes a 133-83 move on a 57% sales increase to 14,000 copies. Meanwhile, "As Time Goes By..." re-entered the album chart last week at No. 108 and bounds to No. 66 this week on a 55% jump to 17,000.

Stewart's takeover ends George Strait's two-week reign at No. 1 with "50 Number Ones" (MCA Nashville). The set saw a 25% sales decrease to 142,000 units and falls to No. 3, but remains atop Billboard's Top Country Albums chart for a third week.

Nelly jumps one to No. 2 with "Suit" on a 6% increase to 153,000 copies, leaving the simultaneously released Derrty/Fo' Reel/Universal set "Sweat" in the dust as it falls 12-16 on a 20% slide to 50,000 copies. Usher's "Confessions" (LaFace/Zomba) drops 2-4 on a 21% decline to 139,000 units.

The press frenzy surrounding the upcoming release of the Ray Charles biopic "Ray" has been good for the late R&B legend's sales. His final studio album, "Genius Loves Company" (Concord/Hear Music) rebounds 13-5 on a 61% increase to sales of 99,000 copies. Last week Charles was the subject of an all-star tribute that aired on CBS.

The Rhino soundtrack to "Ray" enters at No. 23 on sales of 37,000 copies. The film's star, Jamie Foxx, made an Oct. 19 appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and is making the talk show rounds this week in advance of its North American opening on Friday (Oct. 29).

Jimmy Eat World earns its highest position on The Billboard 200 with a No. 6 bow for its Interscope set "Futures." With sales of 99,000 copies, the set more than triples the opening of band's 2001 self-titled DreamWorks release, which opened at No. 54 with 30,000; it has sold 1.3 million to date.

Brooks & Dunn debut at No. 7 with "The Greatest Hits Collection, Vol. 2" (Arista Nashville/RLG). The set, which bows at No. 2 on the Top Country Albums chart, moved 83,000 copies. The duo's 1997's "Greatest Hits Collection" also debuted at No. 7, selling 103,000 in its first week; it has shifted 3.6 million to date.

Celine Dion's "Miracle" (Epic) took a 25% tumble to 81,000 copies and drops 4-8, while Hilary Duff's self-titled Buena Vista/Hollywood album falls 6-9 on an 8% dip to sales of 79,000. Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying" (Curb) drops one to round out the top 10 despite a 6% gain to 71,000.

John Mellencamp debuts at No. 13 with "Words & Music: John Mellencamp's Greatest Hits" (Island/UTV), which moved 59,000 copies. The veteran rocker's previous hits set, "The Best That I Could Do (1978-1988)" (Mercury) opened at No. 33 with 46,000 copies in 1997 and has sold 2.2 million to date.

Elliott Smith posthumously bows at No. 19 with "From a Basement on the Hill" (Anti-). Sales of 43,000 copies mark the singer/songwriter's biggest career sales week and give him the highest-charting album of his career. His 2000 set "Figure 8" (DreamWorks) opened at No. 99 with 19,000 and has sold 185,000 to date.

Other notable debuts include Pat Green's "Lucky Ones" (Republic, No. 28) and Juvenile's "The Greatest Hits" (Cash Money, No. 31).

Overall U.S. album sales were up 1% over the previous week to 10.7 million units, but were about 6% lower than the same week in 2003. Year-to-date sales beating last year's by about 4.8% at 496 million units.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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