Garth Brooks‘ 10-CD box set The Ultimate Collection arrives at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Top Country Albums chart (dated Dec. 31) with 37,000 copies sold in the week ending Dec. 15, according to Nielsen Music. On the all-genre, consumption-based Billboard 200, The Ultimate Collection starts at No. 13.
Notably, the set (up 8 percent in sales for the week) was released as a Target exclusive on Nov. 11; it has sold 326,000 to date. However, the collection was not eligible for Billboard‘s charts for the first four weeks as, per chart policy, its price, $29.99, fell below the minimum price for it to chart ($3.49 for a single disc, or $3.49 times the amount of discs in a multi-disc box set, in a title’s first four weeks of release).
The Ultimate Collection is Brooks’ 16th Top Country Albums leader, pushing him past Tim McGraw‘s 15 and tying him for second place in the chart’s 53-year history with Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, also with 16 each. George Strait leads with 26 No. 1s.
(Since Nielsen Music began powering the chart on May 25, 1991, Brooks’ 16 No. 1s trail only Strait’s 17 in that span.)
Brooks has now added No. 1s on Top Country Albums twice in the same month: Christmas Together, with wife Trisha Yearwood, arrived atop the Dec. 3 chart, four weeks before the coronation of The Ultimate Collection (Dec. 31). The last time an artist collected two Top Country Albums No. 1s in the same month? More than 42 years ago, when Charlie Rich sent two to the top in a three-week span: There Won’t Be Anymore (April 13) and Very Special Love Songs (April 27).
Only one other act has achieved the feat, and as quickly as possible: Kris Kristofferson set the record with new No. 1s in back-to-back weeks in 1973: Jesus Was a Capricorn (Nov. 3) and Full Moon, with his then-wife, Rita Coolidge (Nov. 10).
Brooks is the first act with a pair of Top Country Albums leaders in 2016. In 2015, Luke Bryan tallied two: Spring Break…Checkin’ Out (March 28) and Kill the Lights (Aug. 29).
GARTH’S ‘GUNSLINGER’ & MORE: As The Ultimate Collection starts at No. 1, Brooks populates the Top Country Albums top 10 with three additional titles: Christmas Together, which holds at No. 2 (25,000 sold, down 19 percent); the Christmas Together/Gunslinger bundle, available exclusively at Walmart, which drops 4-8 (13,000, down 24 percent); and the stand-alone Gunslinger, Brooks’ new studio album, which slips 6-10 (11,000, down 23 percent). (Gunslinger is also included as one of the 10 CDs in The Ultimate Collection.)
To recap, Gunslinger debuted and peaked at No. 4 on the Top Country Albums chart dated Dec. 17. The same week, the Christmas Together/Gunslinger bundle reached its No. 3 high (after debuting at No. 14 the week before).
Brooks is the first act to chart four titles in the Top Country Albums top 10 simultaneously since … himself. On the chart dated Jan. 16, 1993, Brooks boasted The Chase (No. 1), No Fences (No. 6), Beyond the Season (No. 8) and Ropin’ the Wind (No. 9).
Two artists who have managed to occupy the Top Country Albums top 10 with as many as five titles at the same time: Elvis Presley and Glen Campbell. Following his death on Aug. 16, 177, Presley’s haul on the Oct. 15 chart that year featured Moody Blue (No. 1), Pure Gold (No. 5), Welcome to My World (No. 6), Legendary Performer, Vol. 1 (No. 8) and How Great Thou Art (No. 10).
Campbell first owned half of the top 10 on Oct. 19, 1968, with Gentle On My Mind (No. 1), Bobbie Gentry & Glen Campbell (No. 2), By the Time I Get to Phoenix (No. 4), A New Place in the Sun (No. 5) and Hey, Little One (No. 8).