October 26, 2005

Ashlee Simpson, Rod Stewart rule album charts

By Margo Whitmire

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Ashlee Simpson and Rod Stewart
led the U.S. pop charts on Wednesday, although sales of their
new albums were considerably lower than those of their previous

Simpson logged her second consecutive No. 1 with "I Am Me,"
her sophomore Geffen Records effort, which sold 220,000 copies
in the week ended October 23, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The pop singer's 2004 debut, "Autobiography," started with
398,000 copies and has gone on to move 2.9 million.
Nonetheless, in just six weeks, the new album's first single,
"Boyfriend," is a top 25 track on the Billboard Hot 100.

Last week's champ, Alicia Keys' "Unplugged" (J Records),
tumbled to No. 9 with 83,000 copies in its second week.

"Thanks for the Memories," the fourth installment of
Stewart's "Great American Songbook" series (J Records),
followed with 193,000 copies. The highest-charting and
best-selling of the series remains last year's Grammy-winning
"Stardust... The Great American Songbook, Vol. 3," which bowed
at No. 1 with 240,000 copies and has sold 1.5 million to date.

At No. 3, Martina McBride's "Timeless" (RCA) earned the
country veteran a career best perch on the Billboard 200 and
third consecutive No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums list.
With sales of 185,000 copies, the 18-track collection of
classic country songs also achieved her best sales week to
date. In 2003, "Martina" opened at No. 7 with 123,000 units; it
has sold 1.7 million to date.

Canadian rock band Nickelback's "All the Right Reasons"
(Roadrunner/IDJMG) fell two places to No. 4 with 132,000 copies
in its third week.

At No. 5, Stevie Wonder's "A Time To Love" (Motown) opened
with 121,000 copies, besting his last studio effort,
"Conversation Peace." That 1995 set debuted at No. 17 with
53,000 and has sold 361,000 so far.

Noted Houston rapper Bun-B started at No. 6 with the solo
effort "Trill" (Rap-A-Lot/WEA), with 118,000 copies. It marks
his first release since UKG partner Pimp C was sent to prison
almost three years ago for failing to complete a community
service sentence that stemmed from a 2002 assault arrest.

Rounding out this week's top-tier bows was Depeche Mode's
first new studio album in four years, "Playing the Angel"
(Sire/Reprise/Mute). The No. 7 entry on sales of 98,000 gives
the group its fifth top 10 album since first charting in 1981.
Its last set, 2001's "Exciter," opened at No. 8 with 115,000;
it has sold 423,000 to date.

Also remaining in the top tier was the Black Eyed Peas'
"Monkey Business (A&M/Interscope) which dropped four places to
No. 8 with 94,000 copies. Kanye West's "Late Registration"
(Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam) fell five places to No. 10 with 78,000.

Although debuting outside of the top 10, country singer
Billy Currington, rock band Thrice and jazz trumpeter Chris
Botti all notched career bests on the big chart this week.
Currington was "Doin' Somethin' Right" (Mercury) at No. 11 with
54,000 copies, while Thrice arrived at No. 15 with "Vheissu"
(Island) on sales of 46,000 copies. Botti's "To Love Again: The
Duets" (Columbia) bowed at No. 18 with sales of 44,000 copies.

Other notable debuts this week included Tracy Lawrence's
"Then & Now: The Hits Collection" (Mercury Nashville, No. 35)
and Black Rob's "The Black Rob Report" (Bad Boy, No. 40).

At 10.8 million units, overall U.S. album sales were up 4%
over the previous week, about 1% higher than the same week last
year. Sales for 2005 lag behind 2004 by 10% at 447 million