May 14, 2008 / 5:53 PM / in 9 years

Diamond scores career first with No. 1 album

<p>File photo shows Singer Neil Diamond on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" at NBC studios in Burbank December 17, 2001. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>

NEW YORK (Billboard) - With “Home Before Dark,” Neil Diamond has landed his first chart-topping album. The Columbia release, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, got a big plug when Diamond appeared recently on “American Idol,” bolstering its 146,000 first-week U.S. sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The Rick Rubin-produced “Home” is Diamond’s biggest debut sales week since SoundScan began tracking in 1991. He first appeared on Billboard’s charts in 1966 with “The Feel of Neil Diamond”; the closest he got to No. 1 was with the 1973 soundtrack to “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” which reached No. 2.

In a busy week of new releases in the top tier of the album chart, Toby Keith’s double-disc collection “35 Biggest Hits” (Show Dog Nashville) bows at No. 2, with sales of 103,000 units. The country star has scored three prior No. 1 albums and two No. 2s.

Meanwhile, Madonna’s “Hard Candy” (Warner Bros.) falls from the top slot to No. 3, moving 94,000 copies with a 66 percent slip. “American Idol” star Clay Aiken debuts at No. 4 with “On My Way Here” (RCA), with a slightly lower sales total than “Hard Candy.” Aiken’s last studio album, 2006’s “A Thousand Different Ways,” started at No. 2 with the much larger sum of 211,000.

Mariah Carey’s Island Def Jam album “E=MC2” continues its decline, dropping from No. 2 to No. 5 with 87,000 (down 9 percent), and Leona Lewis’ “Spirit” (Syco/J) slips from No. 3 to No. 6 with 76,000 (a 10 percent fall).

Gavin DeGraw’s self-titled sophomore effort from J Records climbs on board at No. 7 with 66,000. Interest was spurred by the single “In Love with a Girl,” which so far has peaked at No. 34 on the Hot 100. “Gavin DeGraw” easily trumps the No. 103 peak of 2004’s “Chariot” and the subsequent entry of “Chariot -- Stripped” at No. 56.

Josh Groban’s concert CD/DVD “Awake Live” (Reprise) starts at No. 8 with sales of 58,000, his seventh album to chart on the Billboard 200. Another country mainstay scores a top 10 spot with a hits collection, as Dierks Bentley’s “Greatest Hits: Every Mile a Memory” (Capitol Nashville) opens at No. 9 with 43,000. His most recent studio album, “Long Trip Home,” peaked at No. 5 in 2006.

Latin superstar Luis Miguel claims his highest charting album ever, as “Complices” (Warner Music Latina) takes a bow at No. 10 with 32,000.

Tye Tribbett & G.A.’s “Stand Out” (Columbia) stands out with a No. 16 debut (26,000), and German rock troupe Tokio Hotel’s “Scream” (Interscope) enters at No. 39 with 16,000.

Totaling 8.12 million units, album sales this week are up 6.9 percent from the previous week’s sum and down 4.6 percent from the comparable year-earlier week.

Reuters/Billboard

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