Best-selling albums

On this day in 1978, Gerry Rafferty, once of Stealers Wheel, saw his debut as a solo artist – City to City – knock Saturday Night Fever off the top of the Billboard 200 album chart in the US. It had been there for an outrageous six months (from 21 January 1978, it would spend 120 weeks in the chart in all).

If that’s not a good enough reason to give thanks to Gerry Rafferty without delay, I don’t know what is. (Although without Saturday Night Fever we would never have had that amusing dance scene in Airplane!, amongst other things, so I guess it wasn’t all that bad and that Disco had its good points.)

This song is on that album, which you all know and features the impeccable saxophone work of Raphael Ravenscroft, who toured with David on his first solo tour in 1984: ‘Baker Street’. What a tune it is.

As it got me thinking of and searching for other albums that had been in the charts for months on end, if not years (18.5 in the case of Dark Side of the Moon and Billboard’s Top Pop Catalog Albums chart, but you all knew that), I found this splendid page bursting from top to bottom with facts and stats pertaining to the UK’s far less complicated album chart (singular), and thought it worth presenting to you along with a penny for your thoughts.

(No pennies will be paid for noticing that Saturday Night Fever does not feature until #54. According to Recording Industry Association of America figures, it’s the USA’s 23rd biggest-seller and the second highest-selling soundtrack album of all-time – behind The Bodyguard.)

Of these, please feel free to express your likes, hates, don’t minds, favourite tracks, most highly-regarded live acts… Whatever it is, let’s hear all about it.

What is of greatest interest to me at the time of writing, however, is how many of the UK’s Top 20 you have in your collection (I refer you to my second hyperlink, here it is again); I’ve got nine. Of the 43 others that have sold over two million copies in the UK, listed immediately below the Top 20 and minus the cover art, I have a meagre 14, making a dismal total of 23 out of 63.

Take another look at the full 63 and tell me which do you think is more respectable: to have a high number or a low number? And if you’d care to hazard a guess as to which albums your fellow bloggers possess and confirm which you also have where speculation has taken place, we’ll make a game of it and that game will be called ‘Snap’. (Again, no pennies will be involved.)

Everything below ‘Best-Selling Albums of All Time’ is, obviously, fair game for future blog content, but is certainly worth skimming over if the above suggestions do nothing for you. Lots to talk about, there.

Can’t be bothered to type, yet bored enough to allow yourself to be distracted by music quiz merriment? Take this and try to identify America’s 30 best-selling albums and artists in 11 minutes. Your scores, please.

The chatroom will be open tomorrow, from 3pm (UK), should any stray thoughts need an alternative place in which to casually spill. See you there.

42 comments

  1. Alessandra

    Your scores, please.

    28/60. Not a great result, but I enjoyed the game. 🙂

    • Hydrea

      Don’t worry Alessandra, my scores are only 22/60.

      Nice game FEd, Thanks. 🙂

      Bye, Hydrea

  2. KenF

    I should stand a reasonable chance of doing well at ‘Snap’.

    I have 17 of the Top 20 and another 17 from the remainder of the list in my household, several of which were most definitely not purchased by moi. Honestly… 😉 😛

    • FEd

      OK, let me try to guess which you don’t have, starting with the Top 20…

      You’re a man of good taste (I remember that Division Bell cycling top), so surely you wouldn’t have anything by The Corrs, Spice Girls or Dido?

  3. NewYorkDan

    Looking at the RIAA link, I found it interesting to poke around on that site. Found a list of top selling ARTISTS in the US. PF is #7 on that list, lower than The Eagles and Garth Brooks but above Elton John, Bruce Springsteen or The Rolling Stones. Oddly enough, in the US I think you’d find many more people who could name all members of the Stones than those who could name any member of PF. Maybe that’s because many of PFs best-known albums do not list the performers (no such list of names on WYWH, for example).

    The RIAA “top album” ranking also contradicts something I recently read in a magazine: that The Wall is the third top-selling album of all time, DSotM is the #2 top seller, and Thriller is the #1. So, what gives? Was that magazine wrong, or is it just that the RIAA only measures US sales and those albums sold better in other places than in the US? Who can shed some light on this?

    • FEd

      One thing I do know about the RIAA, and I don’t know much, is that, as you may already know, a double album counts as two units, which seems an unfair system but one which obviously hasn’t done The Wall any harm.

      The RIAA counts in units of wholesale shipments, rather than retail sales, so their figures can be misleading.

  4. Heather

    Hi Fed

    Here goes…

    8 out of the first 20, including 7 of the top 8 and 6 of the remainder. Abba and The Sound of Music were ‘presents’ from parents!!! And dare I also confess to Saturday Night Fever and Grease… all of which were on vinyl and have never been replaced on CD unlike Beatles, Dire Straits, Oasis Queen and of course Floyd.

    More to the point how many of those do I still play? Only one of them!!! And it’s still light years (or should that be Darkside years?) ahead of anything else on that list!

    Have a great weekend and Good Luck to Holland… and Spain if they play like they did against Germany!

    Best Wishes
    Heather

  5. snow

    Thanks for the YouTube link, I’ve never seen the movie and I got a laugh out of the clip.

    I’ve got five in the top twenty and ten in the remaining 43. My score is a low 15. I do have the first five in the RIAA chart, so that makes me feel a bit better but I’m a bit uncertain about the RIAA list. I would have thought that both DSOTM and WYWH would have been above The Wall and I was also expecting to see the Division Bell.

    I like to see the charts take into account the population at the time of release. I think it would be easier to chart higher if you have a bigger pool of buyers, but maybe I’m just dreaming.

    Cheers.

    • FEd

      Thanks for the YouTube link, I’ve never seen the movie and I got a laugh out of the clip.

      Never seen Airplane!?! 😮

      You must see it, it’s the funniest thing. There are too many memorable scenes to list, but the trailer includes some of my favourites.

      Definitely one of my Desert Island Digital Versatile Discs, that.

    • snow

      Thanks FEd, I do get lots of information, links etc from the DG blog that I would otherwise probably never get to experience.

      I just wished that I’d discovered it in early 2006, but that’s life.

      Cheers.

  6. Davie110

    Hey FEd!

    Long time no post for me, I’m afraid! But thankfully I finally graduated from University yesterday, so after 4 years, I now have some spare time to myself, before heading back out into the big bad world!

    I was looking over that very list earlier this week, funnily enough. Some fact I read somewhere got me curious, but I can’t remember what it was…

    Anyway, of the top 20 I have:

    “Greatest Hits (Volume One)” – Queen
    “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” – The Beatles
    “The Dark Side Of The Moon” – Pink Floyd
    “Greatest Hits Volume II” – Queen
    “Bridge Over Troubled Water” – Simon & Garfunkel

    So only 5! That’s shocking! (So is the fact James Blunt sold 2.9 million records! 😀 )

    Of the other 43 I have 5 again… Maybe I need to start expanding my musical tastes a bit more (or not, as the case may be… Robbie Williams?!)

    Anyway, hope all is well with you! Have you managed to get to any concerts so far this year, or are you still cutting back? 🙂

    • FEd

      I saw Paul McCartney the other week. He was excellent, as were his band and all involved. It was one of the most enjoyable performances I’ve been fortunate enough to attend, actually. Thumbs up for him.

      Other than that, I’m off concerts for the foreseeable future having decided that tickets are too expensive.

      Unless it’s Neil Young, of course. 😉

      Congratulations on your graduation.

    • Davie110

      Would that have been at Hyde Park by any chance?

      I was down at that anyway, I also saw Stevie Wonder the night before too. Fantastic.

      And agreed, for some reason I doubted Paul’s live performance capabilities beforehand, but I really shouldn’t have, he was great!

      Tickets are far too expensive nowadays. I’ve got tickets to see The Wall next year, but other than that, I’ve no plans whatsoever, even though there are acts I’d like to see!

      And thank-you! 🙂

    • FEd

      Would that have been at Hyde Park by any chance?

      It wasn’t, it was at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. The Manic Street Preachers were the support, so you knew he’d have to be good to top their set (before their home crowd and all), but top it he did… and comfortably. It was the perfect performance, I thought.

      Glad you enjoyed and I hope you enjoy the next one. 🙂

  7. Rudders - Toronto

    Some trivia…

    Gerry Rafferty used to be in a band with Billy Connolly… The band’s name was The Humblebums…

    I thang yew…

    • FEd

      I have now. Thanks for that, Lorraine. Love those bagpipes.

      OK, Davie, so maybe I’d have liked Macca to have brought his pipe band down for a bit of ‘Mull of Kintyre’ in Cardiff…

      Steady. I’ll sound like some of you in a minute, if I’m not careful. 😉

  8. Alessandra

    I just had a look to the link and I have only 5 albums of the UK’s Top 20 in my collection and 8 of the other 43.

    I don’t know if it’s better to have a high or a low number of them. There are some albums among the ones listed that I judge as art, some that I don’t like very much, but I judge respectable anyway and some others, Dido’s and Take That’s ones, for example, that, in my opinion, are nothing more than commercial products.

    But it’s positive that something like “The Dark Side Of The Moon”, or “Brothers in Arms”, or “Sgt Pepper’s” feature in that list, too. It just means that many people still know (or, at least, knew in the past) the difference between music and commercial entertainment.

  9. lorraine

    I’ve got 5 from the first lot and 8 from the second (which seems more than enough, considering what’s there). In my defence ‘Saturday Night fever’ is in a box, in the attic, under a dismantled cot and a pile of Brio.

    Managed to get 40/60 on that quiz but about 10 points of that can be put down to quiz technique/cheating. My favourite one was guessing the artist for an album called ‘Metallica’ (I’d resorted to putting in random names by that point).

  10. Michèle

    So many questions! And it’s so hot here… (33°C)

    I have (only) one question, please, how is it possible that you always claim you hate Maths while your posts and links are sometimes filled with so many numbers? Admit it, you love Maths… 😉

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  12. Taki

    Hi FEd,

    I/we own

    1.”Greatest Hits (Volume One)” – Queen
    6. “The Dark Side Of The Moon” – Pink Floyd
    16. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” – Simon & Garfunkel
    21. “Bat Out Of Hell” – Meat Loaf
    24. “1” – The Beatles
    28. “Tubular Bells” – Mike Oldfield

    (#1 bought only this year for guitar practicing)

    And I did a bad 12/60 in 5 minutes in the quiz…

    Best regards

    Taki

  13. Bruce

    I have the Gerry Rafferty City to City on vinyl as well as David’s first two solo albums and DSOTM. I may have more of the top 60 but I’d have to go through my album collection. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been through it.

    What was Disco good for except to show me what kind of idiot I was to try to dance to the stuff? It would have been a good idea if I had taken dance lessons back then but lessons were for the one’s who didn’t know how to shake a leg? :)) Or so I thought back then. 8| I just hope nobody has a video of me dancing back then…

    I simply must get back to album hunting at the flea markets and antique shops around here to see what gems I can find!

    Take care.

  14. Simon J

    30/60. Not good at all.

    Best live act I’ve seen has to be U2. Amazing performers.

  15. ash

    Hello Fed, my sincere apologies, I said hello to fellow irregulars in my first message to the blog today and never said hello to you! Apologies Fed, nice to speak to you in the chatroom yesterday. 🙂

    I had seven of the top 20 but now have only four, I had twelve of the other 43 but now have only three. Oh dear. (Divorce, he got the record collection but it was worth it to be rid of him.)

    Of the quiz, I knew 13 albums and artists and should have scored 26/60 but actually scored 32/60. 🙂

    ash

    • FEd

      my sincere apologies, I said hello to fellow irregulars in my first message to the blog today and never said hello to you!

      Silly, no need for apologies. I hope I’m an Irregular. 8|

      ‘Twas very nice to speak to you – and to everyone else – in the chatroom yesterday, too.

  16. Christopher

    Hi Ho FEd,

    I’ve managed 5 and 5 from the respective lists. 8 of these I still listen to regularly. I’ve not heard every song on 49 of them. I’m unaware of hearing anything off 4 of them. And 2 of them I’ve never heard of at all (album or artist); ignorance is bliss.

    I do so love a good list.

    Rock On
    Christopher

  17. Hearn

    FYI… David and Roger performed together tonight for HOPING Charity.

    Pretty damn awesome.

    (Do a search on Getty Images for proof.)

  18. peter m

    Tsk, tsk. You’ve been holding out on us Senor FEd. David and Roger perform together at the Hoping Foundation Benefit? Big news n’est-ce pas?

  19. dognamedblue

    totally off-topic!!!

    it makes me so genuinely happy to see them together and smiling.

    maybe those who argue over the differences when it’s not really any of their business will calm down?

    hope all’s well at DGHQ.

    hope this means they may just do a number together on the wall tour?

    andy

    • FEd

      Thanks, Andy.

      The poor sods at Getty Images are performing routine maintenance on their site, so don’t be surprised if the link doesn’t work.

    • dognamedblue

      Well, in the time I’ve been online and using Getty Images I’ve not seen it “crash” before. 😉

      Good to see such a positive body language between them both and for such a good cause too!

      Free Palestine from Nazi-Zionist occupation. Taking someone’s land is called Lebensraum. Wiping out an entire people is called a final solution. (A lot of) non-Zionist Jewish people are ashamed of what they are doing.

      There, said it.

      andy.

    • dognamedblue

      Don’t forget your grandparents fought Hitler’s Zionist elitist banking controlled New World Order because of what it did, now it’s your turn to fight the Zionist elitist banking controlled New World Order that Gordon Brown so loves talking about, it’s here it is happening right now in front of your eyes, at stake is your sovereignty and your freedom.

      andy.

  20. Pete - Coventry

    Fed,

    Is it correct that David and Roger played together last night (10 July)? Not sure where but I understand it was for a charity event and they played Wish You Were Here.

  21. AJ

    “Baker Street” is one of my favourite songs ever. Awesome sax solo.

    I scored 36/60 on the quiz. So mad I missed AC/DC.

  22. Sam G

    Did Dave approve of this slight on the Bee Gees? Worse still, are they his words?! They made fantastic music.

    Yes, Baker Street is great.

    • FEd

      I can assure you that they are not David’s words, they’re mine.

      I don’t know if he approves of them in this instance.

  23. afromme

    I got a full three (3!) out of the top 20, and only 8 out of the top 63.

    Looking at the full list, I think it’s more respectable to have a low number. Very little, if anything, in the list where I went “oh – that’s one I should still get one of those days”.

    46 out of 60 in the 30 best selling albums in the US.

    Best live gig – tough one. Top five in no particular order would be

    * Rodriguez at Whelan’s, Dublin (2009)
    * Franz Ferdinand at Philipshalle Düsseldorf (2005)
    * Moloko at Ringlokschuppen Bielefeld (2003)
    * Aereogramme at Forum Bielefeld (2003 and 2006)
    * Kaizers Orchestra at Bürgerhaus Stollwerck Köln (2006)

    I wouldn’t want to pick any particular one of them, they were all quite different in size, atmosphere, etc.

    Yes, I did see Pink Floyd in 1994, and Roger in 2002 (the Aussie Floyd in 2004 and 2009), but somehow I am emotionally more attached to those five mentioned above.