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"The genuine outpouring of emotion for Luther Vandross has been amazing. He’s outpaced any possible projection that we had imagined."
——HMV’s Jeff Davidson

LUTHER KING!!!

Radiohead, Strait, Lennox and Joe Budden All Bow in the Top 10
Luther Vandross just got the best get-well gift ever—a #1 album.

The ailing crooner made a near-miraculous recovery last week, allowing him to keep tabs on his second J Records release, Dance With My Father, which would wind up besting the previous winner, Metallica’s St. Anger (Elektra/EEG), for the top chart position, with a sales total north of 400k.

HMV’s Jeff Davidson sent the man some flowers and wishes for continued sales health: "The genuine outpouring of emotion for Luther Vandross has been amazing. He’s outpaced any possible projection that we had imagined. Between Oprah and Father’s Day weekend, it’s been a spectacular debut for Luther. And all I got was this lousy tie."

Vandross led a total of five newcomers crowded into the six top spots: Capitol avant-rockers Radiohead (#3), MCA Nashville’s country mainstay George Strait (#4), fellow J artist Annie Lennox (#5) and Def Jam/IDJ rap newcomer Joe Budden (#6).

Added Davidson: "Radiohead just continues to gain fan support with every record they release. The sales curve on Annie Lennox during the week was astounding. She kept on gaining ground right through the weekend."

The Top 10 was rounded out by Def Jam South/UMG Strx’s. 2 Fast 2 Furious (#7, up 25%), Shady/Aftermath/Interscope hip-hop perennial 50 Cent (#8), Blue Note’s durable diva Norah Jones (#9, up 20%) and Wind-up femme-fronted rockers Evanescence (#10).

Reprise’s grizzled jazz-rock bohos Steely Dan led the second wave of chart newcomers with a #14 bow, followed by Capitol’s Beach Boys best-of (#17), the full-length debut of RCA American Idol runner-up Justin Guarini (#20) and Angel theater diva Sarah Brightman (#36). Interscope’s Russian bad girls T.A.T.U. re-entered the charts at #40.

It was quite a week for Clive DavisRCA/J empire, which not only had two Top 10 and four Top 20 albums but also scored the top two singles, thanks to American Idol finalists Ruben Studdard (on J) and Clay Aiken (on RCA). The latter’s new disc sold more than 300k, while the former’s smash approached 300k for the week. Both obliterated the typical #1 total of around 5,000.

Meanwhile, major double-digit sales increases were also registered by DreamWorks Nashville’s Toby Keith (#21, +36%), UTV’s Jimmy Buffett collection (#26, +56%), RCA’s American Idol Season 2 compilation (#29, + 38%), Epic’s Celine Dion (#31, +35%), Reprise’s Fleetwood Mac (#44, +42%) and Aware/Columbia’s John Mayer (#45, +30%).

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