There was another big battle at the top of the country albums charts last week, and once again the good guys won. Despite the perception by so many in the mainstream country business that radio play and youth is the key to success, two guys in their 60’s with no mainstream radio love topped the charts, and not just from statistical anomalies based on weak numbers, or on an off week for releases, but when one of the most anticipated releases in the mainstream this year in Thomas Rhett’s Tangled Up was in the running.
In the end it was The Eagles drummer, singer, and songwriter Don Henley coming in at #1 with 87,500 albums sold of his traditional country effort Cass County. In an era when album making has come to feel like an automated and habitual process from many artists, including some of the best of our generation, here was a songwriter who made an album because he wanted to, took his time, did it right, and delivered an inspired work without any pretenses that exhibited his passion for traditional country music, and might go on to be considered one of the best country albums all year.
Running up was George Strait‘s Cold Beer Conversation, which came in with sales of 82,700, despite limited availability through Wal-Mart and Apple Music only, and was announced less than a week before its release. Those hoping that King George would get another #1 album may only have to wait another week. It’s not out of the question Cold Beer Conversation could come in at #1 next week now that the cat’s out of the bag about the new release.
The couple of old school country albums also accounted for the #3 and #4 in all of music. Thomas Rhett‘s Tangled Up ended up selling 62,900 copies—not bad, but not good enough to top the competition.
But one older country entertainer, the 53-year-old Clint Black, must be disappointed with the performance of his comeback album On Purpose. 3,100 copies is all the release could account for, debuting at #13 in country, and it looks like one of the greatest disappearing acts in country music has completed the magic trick. Though Black received a lot of press ahead of the release, it appears he’s become too much of an afterthought to break through to the masses, especially on a week that saw a surprise release from his old running buddy George Strait.
Slowly but surely, true country appears to be coming back in style, and the steadfast fans willing to show their support with real dollars for hard copies once again result in strong chart showings.