Diamond scores career first with No. 1 album

Wed May 14, 2008 1:50pm EDT
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By Katie Hasty

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.   Continued...

<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>