LIVING IN THE PAST: After taking a look at this week’s Billboard charts, I wouldn’t blame you if you ran to the calendar to see what decade it is — maybe even which century. Among the artists with new albums entering The Billboard 200 are Aretha Franklin, the Steve Miller Band, the Grateful Dead, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and David Bowie. On the Hot 100, the Rolling Stones have a new entry and Elvis Presley is on the survey for a second week, and those two acts dominate Hot 100 Singles Sales.
“So Damn Happy” (Arista), which debuts at No. 33, is Franklin’s first chart album of the 21st century. Her last album to appear on this tally was “A Rose Is Still a Rose,” which peaked at No. 30 in April 1998. “So Damn Happy” is her 41st album to chart in more than five decades. Thanks to “Happy,” her album chart span expands to 40 years, 10 months and two weeks, dating back to the debut of “The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin” in November 1962.
Steve Miller made his last appearance on The Billboard 200 exactly 10 years ago this week, when the album “Wide River” spent its final frame on the chart, after peaking at No. 85 in August 1993. “Young Hearts: Complete Greatest Hits” (Capitol) enters at No. 37, giving the Steve Miller Band its highest ranking since the “Abracadabra” LP peaked at No. 3 in 1982. With “Hearts,” the outfit’s chart span stretches to 35 years, three months and three weeks, counting back to the debut of “Children of the Future” in June 1968.
The Grateful Dead continues to be a frequent chart visitor. “The Very Best of the Grateful Dead” (Warner Bros.) is the sixth album to appear on The Billboard 200 in this millennium. It is the 12th Dead album to chart since Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack on Aug. 9, 1995. By debuting at No. 69, this greatest hits collection is the group’s highest-ranking set since the first album to chart after Garcia’s death. “Hundred Year Hall” peaked at No. 26 in October 1995. “Very Best” brings the Dead’s album chart span up to 36 years and five months, harking back to the debut of a self-titled LP in May 1967.
“Live at Berkeley” (Experience Hendrix/MCA) is the 37th album by Jimi Hendrix to appear on The Billboard 200. Of those, 30 have charted posthumously. Hendrix was last on the chart in 2001 with “Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection.” This latest CD revises the chart span of the Jimi Hendrix Experience upward to 36 years, one week and one month, going back to the debut of “Are You Experienced?” in August 1967.
Like the Grateful Dead, Bowie is no stranger to the charts of the 21st century. “Reality” (ISO/Columbia), new at No. 29, is his fifth album to make the survey in this millennium. It’s his 39th chart appearance, and is his highest-ranking title since “Heathen” reached No. 14 in June 2002. Counting forward from the debut of “Hunky Dory” in April 1972, Bowie’s chart span is now 31 years, five months and three weeks.
Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones have been chasing each other on the Hot 100 and The Billboard 200 for decades, but one act has never pushed the other out of No. 1 until now. Granted, the succession takes place on the Hot 100 Singles Sales tally, where the remix of Presley’s “Rubberneckin'” (BMG Strategic Marketing/RCA) yields to the remixes of the Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” (ABKCO). On the Hot 100, “Rubberneckin'” drops to the anchor position, while “Sympathy for the Devil” enters at No. 97. Long a favorite at album-oriented-rock radio stations, the track from the 1968 album “Beggars Banquet” has never been a single until this year.
OH ‘BOY’: The tailfeather has stopped shaking at the top of The Billboard Hot 100. The “Bad Boys II” soundtrack song by Nelly, P. Diddy and Murphy Lee, “Shake Ya Tailfeather” (Bad Boy), slips to No. 2 while “Baby Boy” (Columbia) by Beyoncé featuring Sean Paul moves into pole position.
“Baby Boy” is the second No. 1 hit for Beyoncé this year, following “Crazy in Love,” which ended its reign five weeks ago. “Baby Boy” is also the second No. 1 for Sean Paul, who ruled the list in May with “Get Busy.”
Four artists have now had two No. 1 hits each in 2003. P. Diddy (“Bump, Bump, Bump” and “Shake Ya Tailfeather”) and 50 Cent (“In Da Club” and “21 Questions”) were the first two acts to collect dual chart-toppers in 2003.
In 2002, three artists had two No. 1 songs each: Ja Rule (“Always on Time” and “Ain’t It Funny”), Ashanti (“Always on Time” and “Foolish”) and Nelly (“Hot in Herre” and “Dilemma”).
In 2001, two artists each had double chart-toppers: Shaggy (“It Wasn’t Me” and “Angel”) and Usher (“U Remind Me” and “U Got It Bad”).
In 2000, Christina Aguilera (“What a Girl Wants” and “Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)”) and Destiny’s Child (“Say My Name” and “Independent Women Part I”) were the only acts to have two No. 1s apiece.
The last year in which an artist had three No. 1 songs was 1997, when Puff Daddy scored with “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down,” “I’ll Be Missing You” and “Mo Money Mo Problems.”
The last year in which four or more artists each collected at least two No. 1 hits was 1989. The artists were Phil Collins (“Two Hearts” and “Another Day in Paradise”), Paula Abdul (“Straight Up,” “Forever Your Girl” and “Cold Hearted”), Roxette (“The Look” and “Listen to Your Heart”), Fine Young Cannibals (“She Drives Me Crazy” and “Good Thing”), Richard Marx (“Satisfied” and “Right Here Waiting”), New Kids on the Block (“I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)” and “Hangin’ Tough”) and Milli Vanilli (“Baby Don’t Forget My Number,” “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You” and “Blame It on the Rain”).
THE WOMEN OF MOTOWN: Erykah Badu’s “World Wide Underground” is the highest-charting title by a solo female artist on the Motown label in 23 years. “Underground” enters The Billboard 200 at No. 3, the highest position for a solo woman on the imprint since Diana Ross’ Nile Rodgers/Bernard Edwards-produced “diana” peaked at No. 2 in 1980.
Until April 2001, Ross was the only solo female on Motown to ever have a top-10 album. India.Arie’s “Acoustic Soul” debuted at No. 10 the week of April 14, 2001, making her the second woman in the long history of the label to have an album reach the top-10. Thelma Houston had come the closest, going as high as No. 11 in 1976 with “Any Way You Like It,” the LP that included her No. 1 single, “Don’t Leave Me This Way.”
Badu debuted and peaked at No. 11 in December 2000 with “Mama’s Gun,” her first set to be released on Motown after two previous albums on the Kedar banner. When label founder Kedar Massenburg was named president and CEO of Motown, Badu moved over to the legendary label.
The only other individual woman on Motown to reach the top-20 of the album chart was Mary Wells, who went to No. 18 with a greatest hits collection in 1964, while she was No. 1 on the Hot 100 with “My Guy.”
Charlene went as high as No. 36 in 1982 with “I’ve Never Been to Me,” titled after her No. 3 single. Queen Latifah’s “Black Reign” peaked at No. 60 in 1994. After she left her sisters to go out on her own, Bonnie Pointer recorded two albums for Motown, both titled Bonnie Pointer. The first went to No. 96 in 1979, and the follow-up reached No. 63 in 1980. That same year, the former wife of Stevie Wonder, Syreeta, had a No. 73 album with a self-titled set. And after leaving A&M, Shanice managed a No. 83 ranking with “Inner Child” in 1992.
There have been other solo female artists who have recorded for the company founded by Berry Gordy, but many of them never made the album chart with their Motown releases, including Kim Weston, Brenda Holloway, Chris Clark, Barbara McNair and two women who fared better on other labels: Lesley Gore and Kiki Dee. Tammi Terrell appeared on the album chart only when paired with Marvin Gaye; her solo album never charted.
If the field is expanded to include women who were in groups or who fronted groups, only one name would be added to the list of females with top-10 albums: Gladys Knight & the Pips collected one top-10 album while signed with the company; “Neither One of Us” went to No. 9 in 1973.
MORE FOR LOVELESS: “On Your Way Home” (Epic) enters Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart at No. 7, tying the 1989 release “Honky Tonk Angel” as the second highest-charting set of Patty Loveless’ career.
The only Loveless album to chart higher was “Classics,” the 1999 CD that featured her hits on the Epic label. That album debuted and peaked at No. 6.