The first of a flurry of big name compilations to be unleashed between now and the end of the year, The Sound Of Girls Aloud: The Greatest Hits has surprisingly little trouble in overhauling Robbie Williams' Rudebox to earn Girls Aloud their first ever number one album, writes Alan Jones.
Helped by the continuing success of new single Something Kinda Ooooh, (which holds at number three even though its sales decline from 42,114 a week ago to 21,695 in the current frame), the Girls Aloud compilation sold 84,354 copies last week beating the first week tallies of its predecessors Sound Of The Underground (first week sales of 37,077 in 2003), and Chemistry (81,962, 2005) but not What Will The Neighbours Say, which debuted at number six on sales of 85,717 in 2004.
Its passage to the top of the chart was facilitated by a massive 66.4% dip in second week sales of Robbie Williams' album. Rudebox sold 49,476 copies last week - 66.4% down on its first frame tally of 147,236.
Sound Of The Underground was Girls Aloud's first and hitherto highest charting set, debuting and peaking at number two in 2003. They subsequently reached number six with What Will The Neighbours Say (2004) and number 11 with Chemistry (2005) but finally achieve top-billing this week with their greatest hits set, The Sound Of Girls Aloud, which debuts at number one on sales of 84,354. - however, it's not where you start that counts: Sound Of The Underground has sold only 319,711 copies, trailing both Chemistry (351,696) and 'Neighbours' (561,972).
Among the last 100 number one albums, the only one by a girl group is the Sugababes' Taller In More Ways - but Girls Aloud's hits set joins the club this week, and is also the first compilation to top the chart since Eminem's Curtain Call last December.
Joining Girls Aloud in the top tier, there's a first ever Top 10 album for Amy Winehouse - in at number three with Back To Black - and the 15th Top 10 album for veteran rockers The Who.
While introductory single Rehab remains at number seven on sales of 13,837, Amy Winehouse's second album Back To Black makes a great first impression, debuting at number three on sales of 43,021. Winehouse's debut album, Frank, debuted exactly three years ago at number 60 and peaked at number 13 some 14 weeks later, while reaching number two on the Jazz Chart. Reflecting a change of emphasis, Back To Black does not qualify for that chart but enters the R&B Chart at number one, dethroning John Legend's Once Again.
Twenty-three years after their last studio album, It's Hard, peaked at number 11, The Who are back, and debut at number nine on sales of 26,949 for their new album Endless Wire. The album extends the band's album chart career to nearly 42 years, and provides their 32nd Top 75 chart entry.
They last charted in 2004, when the compilation Then And Now debuted and peaked at number five, on first week sales of 25,950. That album has sold 238,888 copies to date, and improves 82-62 this week, reaching its highest placing for 68 weeks. The Who now claim the title for longest span of new hit albums (ie: excluding compilations) by a group, taking over from The Rolling Stones, shoe 39 year span (up to 2003) will doubtless be extended at some future date.
Meanwhile, veteran crooner Tony Bennett also increases his span of hit albums to more than 40 years, debuting at number 15 with Duets - An American Classic on sales of 20,595. The album, which reached number three in the USA last month, features collaborations with many high profile artists including Sting, Bono, Elton John, George Michael, Diana Krall and Paul McCartney.
Bennett first charted a few months before The Who, in May 1965, with the album I Left My Heart In San Francisco, which reached number 13.
Bennett's late number one fan Frank Sinatra, scored with Duets at the age of 77 and Duets II when 78. Bennett, (who appeared on Sinatra's first Duets album sjaring vocal duties on New York, New York) turned 80 earlier this year, and replaces Sinatra as the oldest artist to have a Top 20 album.
The success of Bennett's Duets far exceeds his last album, 2004's The Art Of Romance, which debuted and peaked at number 101, and has thus far sold just 22,127 copies..
Eyes Open dips 9-13 this week, falling out of the Top 10 for the first time in 16 weeks, and achieving the lowest placing of its 27 week chart career - but it's still a great week for Snow Patrol, as the album sails past the million sales mark. By close of business on Saturday, Eyes Open had sold 1,010,595 copies (including 22,406 last week) and is well on the way to matching their 2003 breakthrough album Final Straw, which has sold 1,401,341 copies to date. Eyes Open is the 111th million seller of the 21st century.
On the singles chart, Fedde Le Grand's Put Your Hands Up For Detroit takes over at number one, despite its sales slipping 26.7% week-on-week to 34,391, while McFly's Star Girl slumps 1-9 on sales of 12,167. It's their hastiest retreat from number one yet, surpassing even the 1-8 dive of 2005's I'll Be OK.
Le Grand's single is the latest number one for the Ministry Of Sound's Data imprint. Europe's been the source of them all - Dutch DJ Fedde Le Grande joining Eric Prydz from France and German acts DJ Sammy and Tomcraft.
"New Rave" is gaining ground, and the first big chart hit to emerge from the dance scene's much-hyped new sub-genre is Yeah Yeah by Bodyrox. Debuting at number 11 on downloads last week, it now leaps to number two on sales of 23,181. The work of British duo Jon Pearn and Nick Bridges, it features Luciana on vocals, and, with Fedde Le Grand's Out Your Hands Up For Detroit taking pole position, completes a rare 1-2 for dance music on the chart. A previous version of Yeah Yeah peaked at number 45 earlier this year.
Bumped from Depeche Mode's Playing The Angel album for which it was the first track recorded, Martyr is a hit in its own right this week, debuting at number 13 on sales of 8,673. Scheduled for inclusion on the band's new Best Of, Volume One album (confusingly, their fifth hits compilation) it provides the veteran synthpop innovators with their 42nd Top 40 hit. Playing The Angel spawned four Top 20 hits and has sold 89,682 copies so far, a minuscule 147 sales more than its 2001 predecessor, Exciter.
Nothing In My Way is the latest hit from Keane's second studio album, Under The Iron Sea. Debuting at number 19 on sales of 6,935, it is the third single from the album, following Is It Any Wonder, which reached number three, and Crystal Ball (number 20). Although Under The Iron Sea is the year's seventh biggest seller, with 592,550 sales, including 11,344 last week, its 21 week sales tally is 38.5% down on the 963,507 copies their Hopes And Fears debut had sold at the same stage, on its way to a massive 2,505,829 tally.
Peaking at number 48 for The Skids this very week in 1978, The Saints Are Coming achieves a substantially better placing this week, in a version recorded by U2 and Green Day and, as befits a song with lyrics about storms and generally inclement weather, the new version benefits the Hurricane Katrina charity appeal. Debuting at number six on sales of 14,448 downloads, it provides Green Day's 19th hit, and U2's 38th. It's already U2's 10th Top 10 hit in a row, and likely to climb higher once physical sales kick in this week.
In addition to the titles above, there are Top 20 returns for Simon Webbe, Babyshambles and Jamiroquai.
Former Blue star Webbe's Coming Around Again leaps 50-12 on sales of 9,398. It's the first single from the 27 year old Mancunian's second solo album Grace, and his fourth straight Top 20 solo hit, to which he can add 12 as a member of Blue.
The soap opera life of Babysmables' Pete Doherty may or may not have an effect on their sales. Either way, new single Janie Jones (Strummerville) was fully released last week and fails to emulate its predecessors, settling for a number 17 debut on sales of 7,185. It's a cover of a Clash song about singer and brothel keeper Janie Jones.
Jamiroquai log their 22nd Top 40 hit with Runaway, though sales of 7,174 restrict the track to a number 18 debut. It's a new recording on their hits compilation, High Times: Singles 1992-2006.
Finally, they're released physically today, so Madonna's Jump and George Michael & Mutya's This Is Not Real Love were eligible to make the Top 40 this week but both failed. Madonna's Jump - the fourth single from her Confessions On A Dance Floor set - made the Top 75 at number 59 on sales of 2,246 but Michael & Mutya missed even that, debuting at number 79 on sales of 1,286.