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"Faith Hill fans showed up in force this week. It’s a completely pop record, and it’s a smash. This bodes very well for the upcoming Shania LP."
——Fred Meyer’s Brian Stevens
FAITH IS QUEEN OF THE HILL!!!
LL Cool J Comes On Strong, Elvis and
Stones Hang Tough
Record retail received some more country comfort this week.

The Attack of the Country Crossover Divas continued apace, as Faith Hill clambers to the summit of the HITS Top 50 Albums chart, with her new Warner Bros. release, Cry, moving a shit-kicking, spittoon-filling 463k for a soaring #1 bow. Yee-haw, cowboy.

Hill’s big score follows on the heels of the Dixie Chicks, whose Open Wide/Columbia/CRG album continues to sell like beer at a NASCAR speedway, sitting at #6 this week. Mercury Nashville country/pop diva Shania Twain’s hotly anticipated, Mutt Lange-produced opus roars in on its Harley Nov. 19. For now, though, consumers are keeping the Faith in impressive numbers.

Fred Meyer’s Brian Stevens, who’s hard-pressed to identify one end of a horse from the other, gurgled: "Faith Hill fans showed up in force this week. It’s a completely pop record, and it’s a smash. This bodes very well for the upcoming Shania LP."

Nestled between Hill and the Chicks are a male Southerner, RCA’s Elvis Presley (#2), Def Jam/IDJ’s debuting LL Cool J (#3), Virgin’s Rolling Stones career retrospective (#4) and Arista skate-wunderkind Avril Lavigne (#5). Aftermath/Interscope superstar Eminem (at #7, up 10% and still holding strong a week before the 8 Mile soundtrack streets) and Fo’ Reel/Universal’s Nelly (#8).

The Top 10 was rounded out with bows by a pair of soul crooners in Motown’s Dave Hollister (#9) and Elektra/EEG veteran Gerald Levert (#10). Also making strong debuts this week are Reprise’s Fleetwood Mac with a greatest-hits package (#12), Velvet Hammer/Atlantic/Atl G rockers Taproot (#15) and Elektra/EEG singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman (#21).

Added Stevens in between sucking the marrow out of a bone: "LL Cool J had a nice debut. Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits brought out the adults again. A nice artist-development story is Taproot, which also had a solid start."

Double-digit increases were registered not only by Dixie Chicks and Eminem but also by MCA’s Brown Sugar soundtrack (28-20, up 35%), Arista’s Pink (26-23, up 16%), Aware/Columbia/CRG’s John Mayer (#24, up 14%) and Hollywood’s Sweet Home Alabama ST (49-38, up 26%).

Noted Stevens: "Next week is going to be all about Arista’s Santana, which should be a monster."

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, Brian. If we knew how to speak English, that is.

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