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Fathers day and hot releases buoy market

The recent avalanche of major rock releases combined with Father's Day gift buying to steer the album market to its second highest level of the year last week, writes Alan Jones.

With sales increasing week-on-week by 18.4% to 3,284,529, the overall tally was the highest for 15 weeks, being beaten only in the 24 weeks of 2005 so far completed by the 3,633,914 they registered in the seven days immediately prior to Mother's Day in March.

With Coldplay's X&Y album naturally in decline after its enormous first week sales, artist albums increased by a comparatively modest 10.7% week-on-week to 2,547,539 but the compilation album sector put on 55.9% to reach 736,990.

A week after plummeting to 17% - their second lowest level of the 21st century - compilations' share of the overall market rallied to 22.4%, and was much buoyed by niche Father's Day compilations, of which the Virgin/EMI pair Dad Rocks and I Love Dad were by far the most successful, selling 99,031 and 49,135 copies respectively to take first and third place in the compilation chart. Sandwiched between them, Driving Rock Ballads was also a major beneficiary of Father's Day gift buying, and sold 59,720 copies. Dads Rock's tally easily beats the 62,752 copies I Love Mum sold when it topped the Mother's Day chart in March.

On the artist album chart, Coldplay's X&Y remains number one but experienced a 48.6% dip in sales week-on-week to 238,892. Its cumulative sales after 13 days increased to 703,443, enough for it to jump 6-1 on the year-to-date chart, where it replaces Scissor Sisters' self-titled debut.

In 19 of the first 20 weeks of this year, the 159,179 copies the Foo Fighters' fifth album In Your Honour sold last week would have earned them a number one debut - but not any more.

In Your Honour secured easily the best first week sale of the band's 10 year career but fails to emulate the number one debut of its 2002 predecessor One By One and has to settle for second place in the chart behind Coldplay.

Here's how previous Foo Fighters albums started their careers: One By One sold 91,471 copies when it debuted at number one; their self-titled debut sold just 18,724 copies when it debuted at number three in 1995,;The Colour And The Shape (number three, 1997) set off with sales of 18,946; and There Is Nothing Left To Lose (number 10, 1999) opened with 23,704 sales.

While former Heavenly stalwarts St. Etienne have to settle for a lowly number 72 debut for their introductory Sanctuary album Tales From Turnpike House this week, Heavenly's hot new act The Magic Numbers debut at number seven with their self-titled debut disc enjoying an excellent first week sale of 38,436. Comprising two brother and sister duos - Trinidad's Michele and Romeo Stodart and Londoners Sean and Angela Gannon - The Magic Numbers are enjoying massive critical acclaim and their debut single Forever Lose reached number 15 earlier this month.

Last glimpsed in Top 40 action almost exactly 10 years ago when it reached number 23, Jeff Wayne's classic concept album War Of The Worlds has been re-released yet again, and re-enters the chart at number eight with sales of 34,100 in its 257th week of Top 75 chart activity since its 1978 release. The album, which peaked at number five in its original incarnation, has been reissued as both a double disc and as a seven disc collector's set, comprising SACD 5.1 mixes, dance mixes, out-takes, unreleased tracks and even a 'making of' DVD.

Heralded in many quarters as a return to form, UB40's latest album Who You Fighting For? includes their Manhattans cover Kiss & Say Goodbye and a reggaefication of the Lennon-McCartney obscurity I'll Be On My Way - a Billy J. Kramer b-side in 1963 - among a good mix of covers and new songs. It sold 18,111 copies last week, to debut at number 20, easily beating the number 29 peak of their last album of new material, 2001's Cover Up. Who You Fighting For is UB40's 21st charted album in a 25 year chart career.

There were also fine performaces from All Over The World - The Very Best Of ELO, which posted a 216.9% increase in sales to 53,829 to jump 11-6, and U2's How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, which vaults 33-17 with sales up 164.1% to 19,563. The U2 album had been absent from the Top 20 for 15 weeks.

Physical single sales, at 353,449 were at an eighteeen week low last week, while digital sales of 401,189 were down just 0.66%. Overall singles sales were down 4.2% at 754,638 - their lowest level since downloads were included in the chart in April.

Topping the chart for the fourth straight week, Crazy Frog's Axel F sold 52,084 copies - a 27.9% dip over the previous week - and once again outsold its nearest challenger by a margin of more than three to one. Said challenger James Blunt's You're Beautiful has climbed 12-6-2, but it should be noted that the 16,488 copies it sold last week - a 24.3% increase on its prior frame - are the second lowest for a number two single this year, beating only the record low number two tally of 12,753 registered by the Manic Street Preachers' Empty Souls some 22 weeks ago.

Excluding singles debuting early after distribution leakages and former imports, You're Beautiful is the first single to debut outside the Top 10 and subsequently climb to number two since 2000, when The Baha Men's Who Let The Dogs Out moved 13-14-2. Blunt's debut album also hits a new high this week, climbing 4-3, on a 7.8% increase in sales to 66,986 .

The Audio Bullys' Shot You Down is also making continued upwards progress, and has so far moved 9-10-7-3. Its sales increased by 20.4% last week to 15,316. Airplay support for the Audio Bullys track has never been that good, and it slips 38-40 on the radio airplay chart this week, while climbing just 50-46 on the TV airplay chart.

Its club play has dipped over the same period, so the reason for its improved sales chart status is a bit of a mystery - though it may well have something to do with the BBC's much-aired Wimbledon TV trailer, which utilises large chunks of Nancy Sinatra's Bang Bang, which Shot You Down samples. Interestingly, the radio campaign for Wimbledon uses the Audio Bullys track instead.

With the number one single holding its place for a fourth week, and climbers holding second and third place, it's a fairly old-fashioned chart in which the highest new entry, Nelly's N Dey Say, debuts at number six on sales of 11,665.

22 years after topping the chart for Spandau Ballet, and 14 years after providing the vital sample for PM Dawn's number three hit Set Adrift On Memory Bliss, the Gary Kemp song True now powers N Dey Say, which is the 10th Top 10 hit of Nelly's career,

N Dey Say originally appeared on Suit, the best received of two Nelly albums released simultaneously - the other was Sweat - last September. Thus far Suit has sold 270,312 copies, compared to Sweat's 114,997. Last month, the best tracks from both albums were combined on Sweat Suit, which has so far sold 25,347 copies in five weeks, and slips 42-52 this week.

Returning after a two year break, Spain's DJ Sammy extends to four his opening run of Top 10 hits. Sammy reached number one with his club version of Bryan Adams' Heaven in 2002, and followed up in 2003 with a number two remake of Don Henley's Boys Of Summer and the number eight original Sunlight. His latest single, a cover of Annie Lennox's 1993 number five hit Why, debuts at number seven with first week sales of 11,352 - that's his lowest first week sales yet, however, replacing Sunlight, which opened with 12,765 sales.

Charlie Simpson's new band Fightstar have earned praise from the likes of NME and Kerrang! in a way his former vehicle Busted never did - but thus far at least they don't appeal to record buyers nearly as much. Between 2002 and their demise in 2004, Busted put together a string of eight straight top three hits - four of the number ones - and sold 956,649 singles. Fightstar's introductory single Paint Your Target debuts at number nine this week, on sales of just 9,721 copies.

Green Day's American Idiot album has been the most successful of their career, with sales to date of 1,220,002 but fourth single Wake Me Up When September Ends still managed to attract 11,250 buyers last week to secure a number eight debut, reversing the downward trend of previous singles American Idiot, Boulevard Of Broken Dreams and Holiday, which peaked at three, five and 11 respectively.

Top 10 singles not mentioned above are Akon's Lonely, continuing its slow fade with a 3-4 dip on sales of 14,668; Gorillaz' Feel Good Inc.'s similarly leisurely decline, falling 4-5 with 13,635 buyers last week; and Amerie's 1 Thing, dipping 5-10 with sales off 29.3% at 9,624.

Finally, after seven weeks at number one on the radio airplay chart, Coldplay's Speed Of Sound dips to number three to be replaced by Jem's second hit Just A Ride.

Jem's debut hit They climbed as high as number two on the airplay chart in March while peaking at number six on the OCC sales chart. Follow-up Just A Ride debutson the sales chart at number 16 this week while climbing 6-1 on the airplay chart Just A Ride was the most-played record on Radio 2 last week (21 plays) and was fifth on Radio One's list, with 24 spins. These two stations provided nearly 70% of its audience of just over 64m. Although its audience was the highest of any record, Just A Ride's total of 1,602 plays was only the seventh highest. Just A Ride's high airplay profile is paying rich dividends for Jem's Finally Woken album, which also benefited from TV advertising last week. As a result it jumps 36-22, with sales up 123.8% at 16,128. Its cumulative sales are 153,083.

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