Alabama's 'Southern Drawl' Heard Loud and Clear on Country Albums Chart

Alan Messer
Alabama

Alabama's Southern Drawl, the band's first album of original songs since 2001's When It All Goes South, opens at No. 2 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart (dated Oct. 10) with 21,000 copies sold in the week ending Sept. 24, according to Nielsen Music. No. 1 belongs to Luke Bryan, whose Kill the Lights rises 2-1 (up 1 percent to 27,000) for a sixth total week on top.

Drawl marks Alabama's best rank and sales sum on Top Country Albums since Songs of Inspiration became the act's 11th No. 1 on Nov. 11, 2006 with 44,000 first-week copies sold. Alabama's core members, cousins Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook, steer the new album, the group's 44th on Top Country Albums. The band first charted with 1980's My Home's in Alabama, which reached No. 3. Alabama has notched 33 No. 1s on Hot Country Songs, the most among groups; Drawl's lead single, "Wasn't Through Lovin' You Yet," has not yet reached the chart.

Drawl was sold through traditional outlets, as well as Cracker Barrel stores, whose version includes two exclusive songs ("Backwoods Boogie" and "I've Got Some Lovin' "), and QVC.

"I'm thankful," Owen tells Billboard. "It's amazing happiness on a huge scale. I appreciate everyone's hard work from management, label, agency and public relations. This means a lot to us, [that] after 40 years people still enjoy Alabama."

ALSO ARRIVING: Debuting at No. 3 on Top Country Albums is the self-titled album by Turnpike Troubadours (19,000). Their lone prior entry, 2012's Goodbye Normal Street, peaked at No. 14 (8,000).

While no single is marked for commercial country radio, Thirty Tigers president David Macias is focusing on the music. "We have been with these guys a long time [since 2010]. We've been building their fan base since the beginning, and for this album we wanted to make sure they knew about it. We did aggressive pre-release campaigns in several places, including iTunes."

Also on Top Country Albums, a cappella group Home Free's Country Evolution bows at No. 4 (10,000). It's the third and strongest showing on the survey for the group that won the 2013 season of NBC's The Sing-Off. Crazy Life and Full of Cheer, both released in 2014, reached Nos. 8 and No. 12, respectively.

ANOTHER WEEK FOR 'DAY': Kenny Chesney's "Save It for a Rainy Day" reigns for a second week atop Country Airplay, up 6 percent to 50.9 million audience impressions. It's the first song to hold the top position for at least two weeks since Blake Shelton's "Sangria" (July 11 and July 18). In between, 10 songs spent a week each at No. 1.

'BEER' RUN: At his Sept. 22 press conference, George Strait announced his 2016 Strait to Vegas concert dates. He also unveiled a brand new single and album, that proved to be almost complete surprise to most in the industry beforehand. Cold Beer Conversation was released Sept. 25, along with the title cut, which soars onto Country Airplay at No. 35 (4.5 million). The bow is Strait's highest since "Here for a Good Time" rolled in at No. 29 on June 25, 2011.

With Strait's career having brought countless milestones, the launch of the new album and single marks another coup, says MCA vp promotion Katie Dean. "Prior to the press conference, very few people knew the launch plan for the project. It was a true integrated team effort.

This article first appeared in Billboard's Country Update -- sign up here.