Chart-based stories on Ray Stevens, Savage Garden, and Ja Rule.
EVEN STEVENS: Thirty years and one month after he made his debut on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart, Ray Stevens is back. The artist born in Clarksdale, Ga., enters at No. 29 with "Osama-Yo' Mama: The Album" (Curb). It's his first appearance on this chart since 1997, when "Ray Stevens Christmas - Through a Different Window" peaked at No. 69, and it's already Stevens' highest-charting album since "Crackin' Up!" went to No. 25 in 1987.
Stevens made his debut on the country album chart the week of Feb. 5, 1972, with "Turn Your Radio On." His pop albums debut happened almost 10 years earlier. "1,837 Seconds of Humor" entered the chart the week of Sept. 15, 1962. Stevens made his Billboard Hot 100 debut a year earlier than that, with "Jeremiah Peabody's Poly Unsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green and Purple Pills," which entered the chart the week of Aug. 21, 1961.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Just one week after setting the record for longevity on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart, Savage Garden's "I Knew I Love You" (Columbia) disappears from the tally. The song was on the chart for 124 weeks, besting the 123-week run of "Truly Madly Deeply," also by Savage Garden.
Despite the vanishing act of "I Knew I Loved You," half of Savage Garden is still represented on the chart. Darren Hayes' first solo effort, "Insatiable" (Columbia), climbs 18-16.
ALWAYS OR NEVER: William Simpson of Los Angeles does it again with his discovery that the No. 1 status of "Always on Time" by Ja Rule and Ashanti on The Billboard Hot 100 results in a tie between chart-topping songs that have featured the words "Always" and "Never" in the title.
"Always on Time" is the fourth No. 1 hit of the rock era with "Always" in the title, following "Always" by Atlantic Starr, "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston, and "Always Be My Baby" by Mariah Carey. There are four "Never" songs as well: "It's Now or Never" by Elvis Presley, "Have You Never Been Mellow" by Olivia Newton-John, "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley, and "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" by Janet Jackson.