NEW YORK (Billboard) - For the fourth time in his career, country veteran George Strait earned the No. 1 spot on the U.S. pop album chart Wednesday, while R.E.M. scored its highest sales and charting week in nearly 12 years.
Strait's "Troubadour" sold 166,000 copies in the week ended April 6, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The Billboard 200 has hosted at least one new entry from Strait every year since 1984. The MCA Nashville album also ranks as his 22nd No. 1 Billboard's Top Country Albums tally. He last topped both charts with 2005's "Somewhere Down in Texas," which opened to 245,000 copies.
R.E.M., which has been stuck in the commercial and creative wilderness for the past decade of so, debuted at No. 2 with "Accelerate." The Warner Bros. release sold 115,000 copies.
R.E.M.'s previous studio album, "Around the Sun," debuted at No. 13 in 2004 with 59,000 copies. The band last made a big impression with 1996's "New Adventures in Hi-Fi," which opened with 226,500 units, narrowly missing out on the No. 1 spot.
The multi-artist "NOW 27" compilation rose two to No. 3 with 60,000. Last week's chart-topper, R&B group Day26's self-titled debut, slid to No. 4 with 51,000. The soundtrack to "Alvin and the Chipmunks" soared 11 to No. 5, also with 51,000, propelled by the hit film's DVD release.
Rapper Trina bowed at No. 6 with "Still Da Baddest," which sold 47,000 copies, her first top 10 set. Her last album, "Glamorest Life," entered at No. 11, though with better sales at 77,000.
Girl group Danity Kane's sophomore album, "Welcome to the Dollhouse" fell three to No. 7 with 47,000, while Counting Crows' "Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings" dropped five to No. 8 with 43,000 in its second week. Rick Ross' "Trilla" fell three to No. 9 with 41,000.
Van Morrison's "Keep It Simple" earned the songwriter his first top 10 hit of his 40-plus-year career, debuting at No. 10 with 37,000. His previous high water mark was with "Saint Dominic's Preview" in 1972 at No. 15.
In a week where 31 titles debut on the chart, the Rolling Stones' Interscope soundtrack to its Martin Scorsese-directed concert film "Shine a Light" bowed at No. 11 with 37,000. The band's last live album, 2004's "Live Licks," opened at No. 50 with 20,000 units.
The Black Keys' "Attack and Release" opened at No. 14 with 29,000, both career bests for the Akron, Ohio-based duo.
Album sales fell 3.5% from the previous week to 7.99 million, and were down a hefty 24.5% from the year-ago period.