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Record Breakers and Trivia : Albums

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Best-Selling Albums of All Time
Accurate historical sales data is almost impossible to come by for the album market. We are indebted to Hanboo for his tireless work in the computation of this list. The all-time best-selling albums in the UK are:

1. "Greatest Hits (Volume One)" - Queen (1981) (5.4 million copies)

Tracks: Bohemian Rhapsody / Another One Bites The Dust / Killer Queen / Fat Bottomed Girls / Bicycle Race / You're My Best Friend / Don't Stop Me Now / Save Me / Crazy Little Thing Called Love / Now I'm Here / Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy / Play The Game / Flash / Seven Seas Of Rhye / We Will Rock You / We Are The Champions / Somebody To Love
2. "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" - The Beatles (1967) (4.8 million)

Tracks: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band / With a Little Help from My Friends / Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds / Getting Better / Fixing a Hole / She's Leaving Home / Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! / Within You, Without You / When I'm Sixty-Four / Lovely Rita / Good Morning, Good Morning / Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) / A Day in the Life
3. "(What's The Story) Morning Glory" - Oasis (1995) (4.3 million)

Tracks: Hello / Roll With It / Wonderwall / Don't Look Back In Anger / Hey Now / untitled / Some Might Say / Cast No Shadow / She's Electric / Morning Glory / untitled / Champagne Supernova
4. "Brothers In Arms" - Dire Straits (1985) (4.0 million)

Tracks: So Far Away / Money For Nothing / Walk Of Life / Your Latest Trick / Why Worry / Ride Across The River / Man's Too Strong / One World / Brothers In Arms
5. "Abba Gold Greatest Hits" - Abba (1992) (3.9 million)

Tracks: Dancing Queen / Knowing Me, Knowing You / Take A Chance On Me / Mamma Mia / Lay All Your Love On Me / Super Trouper / I Have A Dream / The Winner Takes It All / Money, Money, Money / S.O.S. / Chiquitita / Fernando / Voulez Vous / Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) / Does Your Mother Know / One Of Us / The Name Of The Game / Thank You For The Music / Waterloo
6. "The Dark Side Of The Moon" - Pink Floyd (1973) (3.8 million)

Tracks: Speak To Me / Breathe / On The Run / Time / Great Gig In The Sky / Money / Us And Them / Any Colour You Like / Brain Damage / Eclipse
7. "Greatest Hits Volume II" - Queen (1991) (3.6 million)

Tracks: Kind Of Magic / Under Pressure / I Want It All / I Want To Break Free / Innuendo / Breakthru' / Who Wants To Live Forever / Headlong / Miracle / I'm Going Slightly Mad / Invisible Man / Hammer To Fall / Friends Will Be Friends / Show Must Go On / Friends Will Be Friends / Show Must Go On / One Vision
8. "Thriller" - Michael Jackson (1982) (3.6 million)

Tracks: Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' / Baby Be Mine / Girl Is Mine / Thriller / Beat It / Billie Jean / Human Nature / P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) / Lady In My Life
9. "Bad" - Michael Jackson (1987) (3.6 million)

Tracks: Bad / Way You Make Me Feel / Speed Demon / Liberian Girl / Just Good Friends / Another Part Of Me / Man In The Mirror / I Just Can't Stop Loving You / Dirty Diana / Smooth Criminal / Leave Me Alone


"The Immaculate Collection" - Madonna
(1990) (3.4 million)

Tracks: Holiday / Lucky Star / Borderline / Like A Virgin / Material Girl / Crazy For You / Into The Groove / Live To Tell / Papa Don't Preach / Open Your Heart / La Isla Bonita / Like A Prayer / Express Yourself / Cherish / Vogue / Justify My Love / Rescue Me
11. "Stars" - Simply Red (1991) (3.4 million)

Tracks: Something Got Me Started / Stars / Thrill Me / Your Mirror / She's Got It Bad / For Your Babies / Model / How Could I Fall / Freedom / Wonderland
12. "Come On Over" - Shania Twain (1998) (3.3 million)

Tracks: You're Still The One / When / From This Moment On / Black Eyes Blue Tears / I Won't Leave You Lonely / I'm Holdin' On To Love (To Save My Life) / Come On Over / You've Got A Way / Whatever You Do Don't / Man I Feel Like A Woman / Love Gets Me Every Time / Don't Be Stupid (You Know I Love You) / That Don't Impress Me Much / Honey I'm Home / If You Wanna Touch Her Ask / Rock This Country
13. "Rumours" - Fleetwood Mac (1977) (3.1 million)

Tracks: Second Hand News / Dreams / Never Going Back Again / Don't Stop / Go Your Own Way / Songbird / Chain / You Make Loving Fun / I Don't Want To Know / Oh Daddy / Gold Dust Woman
14. "Urban Hymns" - The Verve (1997) (3.1 million)

Tracks: Bitter Sweet Symphony / Sonnet / The Rolling People / The Drugs Don't Work / Catching The Butterfly / Neon Wilderness / Space And Time / Weeping Willow / Lucky Man / One Day / This Time / Velvet Morning / Come On
15. "No Angel" - Dido (2002) (3.0 million)

Tracks: Here With Me / Hunter / Don't Think Of Me / My Lover's Gone / All You Want / Thank You / Honestly Ok / Slide / Isobel / I'm No Angel / My Life / Take My Hand
16. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" - Simon & Garfunkel (1970) (3.0 million)

Tracks: Bridge Over Troubled Water / El Condor Pasa / Cecilia / Keep The Customer Satisfied / So Long Frank Lloyd Wright / Boxer / Baby Driver / Only Living Boy In New York / Why Don't You Write Me / Bye Bye Love / Song For The Asking
17. "Talk On Corners" - The Corrs (1999) (2.9 million)

Tracks: Only When I Sleep / When He's Not Around / Dreams / What Can I Do? / I Never Loved You Anyway / So Young / Don't Say You Love Me / Love Gives Love Takes / Hopelessly Addicted / Paddy Mccarthy (instrumental) / Intimacy / Queen Of Hollywood / No Good For Me / Little Wing
18. "Spice" - The Spice Girls (1996) (2.9 million)

Tracks: Wannabe / Say You'll Be There / 2 Become 1 / Love Thing / Last Time Lover / Mama / Who Do You Think You Are / Something Kinda Funny / Naked / If U Can't Dance
19. "Back To Bedlam" - James Blunt (2005) (2.9 million)

Tracks: High / You’re Beautiful / Wisemen / Goodbye My Lover / Tears And Rain / Out Of My Mind / So Long Jimmy / Billy / Cry / No Bravery


"White Ladder" - David Gray
(2002) (2.9 million)

Tracks: Please Forgive Me / Babylon / My Oh My / We're Not Right / Nightblindness / Silver Lining / White Ladder / This Years Love / Sail Away / Say Hello Wave Goodbye

Forty-three other titles have sold over 2 million copies. They are (in descending order of sales):
  1. "Bat Out Of Hell" - Meat Loaf     (2.8m)
  2. "Life For Rent" - Dido     (2.8m)
  3. "But Seriously" - Phil Collins     (2.7m)
  4. "1" - The Beatles      (2.7m)
  5. "The Man Who" - Travis     (2.7m)
  6. "The Joshua Tree" - U2      (2.7m)
  7. "Greatest Hits" - Abba     (2.6m)
  8. "Tubular Bells" - Mike Oldfield     (2.6m)
  9. "A Rush Of Blood To The Head" - Coldplay     (2.6m)
  10. "I've Been Expecting You" - Robbie Williams     (2.6m)
  11. "Jagged Little Pill" - Alanis Morissette     (2.6m)
  12. "Scissor Sisters" - The Scissor Sisters     (2.5m)
  13. "Legend" - Bob Marley & The Wailers     (2.5m)
  14. "Hopes And Fears" - Keane     (2.5m)
  15. "War Of The Worlds" - Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version     (2.5m)
  16. "The Sound Of Music" - (Original Soundtrack)     (2.4m)
  17. "Dirty Dancing" - (original Soundtrack)     (2.4m)
  18. "Ladies And Gentlemen - The Best Of" - George Michael     (2.4m)
  19. "Grease" - (Original Soundtrack)     (2.4m)
  20. "Come Away With Me" - Norah Jones     (2.4m)
  21. "X And Y" - Coldplay     (2.3m)
  22. "Tracy Chapman" - Tracy Chapman     (2.3m)
  23. "Robson And Jerome" - Robson & Jerome     (2.3m)
  24. "Tango In The Night" - Fleetwood Mac     (2.3m)
  25. "Parachutes" - Coldplay     (2.3m)
  26. "Now That's What I Call Music 44" - Various     (2.3m)
  27. "Automatic For The People" - R.E.M.     (2.3m)
  28. "Whitney" - Whitney Houston     (2.2m)
  29. "The Marshall Mathers LP" - Eminem     (2.2m)
  30. "Swing When You're Winning" - Robbie Williams     (2.2m)
  31. "Graceland" - Paul Simon     (2.2m)
  32. "Sing When You're Winning" - Robbie Williams     (2.2m)
  33. "Beautiful World" - Take That     (2.2m)
  34. "Saturday Night Fever" - (Original Soundtrack)     (2.2m)
  35. "The Bodyguard" - (Original Soundtrack)     (2.1m)
  36. "The Very Best Of Elton John" - Elton John     (2.1m)
  37. "Simply The Best" - Tina Turner     (2.1m)
  38. "Kylie - The Album" - Kylie Minogue     (2.1m)
  39. "Falling Into You" - Celine Dion     (2.1m)
  40. "Life Thru A Lens" - Robbie Williams     (2.1m)
  41. "Greatest Hits" - Eurythmics     (2.1m)
  42. "Escapology" - Robbie Williams     (2.0m)
  43. "Greatest Hits" - Robbie Williams     (2.0m)

Album with Most Weeks At Number One (in total)
115 for the soundtrack to "South Pacific". Top artist album is Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (41 weeks). Top group album is The Beatles' "Please Please Me" (30 weeks). Top solo album is Elvis Presley's "G.I. Blues" (22 weeks) - though this is also a soundtrack.

Album with Most Weeks At Number One (consecutive)
70, again for the soundtrack to "South Pacific". Top group album is The Beatles' "Please Please Me" (30 straight weeks). Top solo album is Elvis Presley's "Blue Hawaii" (17 weeks) - another soundtrack.

Longest Stay in The Chart by an Album
Simon And Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" spent 278 weeks in the Top 40 spanning 1970-1975. Top album by a solo artist is Meat Loaf's "Bat Out Of Hell" (244 weeks between 1978 and 1994 - never rising above no. 9 in the chart!). Longest stay in the Top 40 by an album recorded by a group is "Dark Side Of The Moon" by Pink Floyd (211 weeks: 1973-2003). Longest stay in the chart by an album recorded by a female soloist is "Jagged Little Pill" by Alanis Morissette (94 weeks, 1995-2000).

Longest Continuous Stay in The Album Chart by An Artist
317 weeks for Simon and Garfunkel from the entry of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" on w/e 21st Feb 1970 to the departure of "Simon And Garfunkel's Greatest Hits" 13th Mar 1976. Longest run in the Top 40 for a soloist is 171 weeks; Elvis Presley from "Elvis' Golden Records Volume 2" (16th Jun 1960) to "It Happened At The World's Fair (OST)" (19th Sep 1963).

Artist with Most Number 1 Albums
The Beatles with 15 chart-toppers. Top solo artists, with 11 each, are are Elvis Presley (as of Aug 2007) and Madonna with 11 (as of Oct 2009) (though other artists featured with her on the soundtrack to "Evita"). Next is Michael Jackson (9, including a Jackson Five album which specifically credited Michael) followed by David Bowie (8).

Artist with Most Consecutive Number 1 Albums
Two groups have had unbroken runs of 8 chart-toppers. They are Led Zeppelin (from "Led Zeppelin 2" in 1969 to "In Through The Out Door" in 1979) and Abba (from "Greatest Hits" in 1976 to "The Singles - The First Ten Years" in 1982). By an odd piece of synchronicity Led Zep's eighth consecutive chart-topper ("In Through The out Door") was recorded at Abba's very own Polar Studios in Sweden.
Leading soloist is Robbie Williams (5 - from "Life Thru A Lens" in 1997 to "Escapology" in 2002). Leading female soloists with 3 consecutive number ones each are Eva Cassidy (from "Songbird" in 2001 to "American Tune" in 2003) and Madonna ("Evita" 1996 to "Music" in 2000, though "Evita" was a soundtrack album featuring a number of other artists).

Artist with Most Top 10 Albums
Elvis Presley with 49 (as of Aug 2007). Top group is The Shadows with 28 (17 of these with Cliff Richard) (as of Oct 2009). Leading female artist is Madonna (19 as of Oct 2009), just eclipsing Diana Ross (17 including 6 with The Supremes, 1 with The Supremes & The Temptations, and 1 with Marvin Gaye).

Artist with Most Top 40 Albums
Elvis Presley has had 77 Top 40 albums (as of Oct 2007). Leading female artist is Diana Ross with 38. Top group is The Rolling Stones with 39 hit albums (the latest in Apr 2008).

Artist with Most Simultaneous Top 40 Albums
Elvis Presley. In the week ending 10th Sep 1977, shortly after his death, Elvis had twelve albums in the Top 40, occupying positions 1, 4, 7, 12, 14, 20, 21, 26, 27, 30, 37, 38.
In Sep 2009, The Beatles occupied eleven of the Top 40 places when remastered versions of their albums were issued.

Artist with Most Weeks at Number 1 in the Album Chart
The Beatles; they have topped the album chart for 174 weeks. Top solo artist is Elvis Presley with 63 weeks at the summit (as of w/e 25th Aug 2007).

Artist with Most Weeks in the Album Top 40
Elvis Presley; 989 weeks (as of w/e 20th Oct 2007). Top group is The Beatles (908; last there w/e 19th Sep 2009) and Madonna has been on the Top 40 album chart for more weeks than any other female soloist (613 weeks; last there w/e 3rd Oct 2009).

Oldest Artist To Top The Album Chart
When she hit the top spot with "We'll Meet Again - The Very Best Of...", in Sept 2009, Dame Vera Lynne was 92 years old.

First Album To Enter At Number 1
Frank Sinatra's "Songs For Swingin' Lovers" was the record to top the first ever Long-Player (album!) chart (July 1956) so, technically, this is the first to debut at Number 1. But ignoring this, the first to enter at Number 1 in the established chart was Elvis Presley's soundtrack to the film "Lovin' You" in Sep 1957. In those days there was only a Top 5 listing. "Help" by The Beatles was the first to enter at no. 1 from outside the Top 20 in August 1965.

Slowest Climb To Number 1
David Gray's "White Ladder" had been in the Top 40 for 64 weeks before finally reaching Number 1 in 2001.
In terms of time taken to get to Number 1 having appeared in the Top 40, the record goes to "The Very Best Of Sting And The Police." This album entered the Top 40 in Nov 1997. It fell from the chart returning more than four years later (Mar 2002) when it made no. 1; (223 weeks).

One-Hit Wonders
These are artists who had one Number One album and have been involved in no other hit album (with the possible exception of inclusion on compilations). ("Hit" here meaning a Top 40 placing). Artists marked * have experienced some further success outside the Top 40.

1960Freddy CannonThe Explosive Freddy Cannon
1972* Neil ReidNeil Reid
1988Johnny Hates JazzTurn Back The Clock
1991The FarmSpartacus
1994Chaka Demus & PliersTease Me
2005Steve BrooksteinHeart And Soul
2006Corinne Bailey RaeCorinne Bailey Rae
2006* Journey SouthJourney South
2007The ViewHats Off To The Buskers
2007Ray QuinnDoing It My Way
2007Paul PottsOne Chance
2007Kate NashMade Of Bricks
2007Newton FaulknerHand Built By Robots
2007The HoosiersThe Trick To Life
2007Leona LewisSpirit
2008Amy MacdonaldThis Is The Life
2008Ting TingsWe Started Nothing
2008BasshunterNow You're Gone - The Album
2008The ScriptThe Script
2009White LiesTo Lose My Life
2009Lady GaGaThe Fame

Last one-hit wonder to be removed from the list: Mika (Oct 2009).
Notes about One-Hit Wonders:
  • Blind Faith had one no. 1 album and nothing else ("Blind Faith", 1969) but all four members (Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood, Rick Grech, Eric Clapton) went on to further album success either as soloists or with other groups.
  • Linda McCartney is exempted. Her 1971 chart-topper ("Ram") (with Paul) is her only 'solo' credit but she had further success as a member of Wings.
  • Holly Johnson is exempted. His only solo success is the chart-topper "Blast!" (1989) but he was the frontman of Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
  • Leona Lewis returned to no. 1 with a 'deluxe' version of her "Spirit" album in Nov 2008. This version contained additional tracks, technically making it a different album so, on a point of order, it could be argued that she has had two hit albums.

Biggest Jump To Number One
Within the Top 40, the record is held by Blind Faith's "Blind Faith" album which leapt to no. 1 from no. 32 (1962).
Beyond the Top 40, the record goes to "20 Golden Greats" by The Shadows which, in 1977 shot from no. 48 to. no. 1.

Fastest Selling Album
Defining "fastest selling" as shifting most copies in a single week, the record goes to "Be Here Now" by Oasis which sold 663,389 copies in its first week on sale (1997).
Fastest seller by a solo artist is Dido's "Life For Rent" (400,351 copies, 2003). Robbie Williams' "Intensive Care" is fastest seller for a male artist (373,832 in 2005). "Spiceworld" by The Spice Girls (1997) sold 192,000 copies in its first week on sale, making it the fastest seller by an all-girl group.

Fastest selling debut album is "Spirit" by Leona Lewis (375,872 copies, 2007) - beating the record set in the previous year by The Arctic Monkeys' "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" (363,735 copies).

It is worth pointing out that accurate, detailed sales figures for albums are only available from 1995. Though this is the point at which album sales really picked up, it is possible that an album released prior to this date would qualify for one of the record in this section.

Biggest Climb Within The Album Top 40
37 places from no. 40 to no. 3 by the Various Artist album "Raiders Of The Pop Charts" in Jan 1983. Biggest climb by an album recorded by a group is The Shadows' "String Of Hits" (up 36 places to no. 3 in Mar 1980 ). Biggest climb for a soloist is 35 places to no. 2 by David Bowie's "Low" in Feb 1977. Greatest leap by a female soloist is Gabrielle's appropriately titled album "Rise" (33 places to no. 6 in Feb 2000).

Biggest Fall Within The Album Top 40
34 places. In 2001, Westlife's album, "Westlife" fell from no. 3 to no. 37.

Biggest Fall From Number One
17 places from Number 1 to Number 18 by George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" in the chart of w/e 3rd April 1971. This was, in part, a consequence of disrupted chart reporting due to a postal strike. The biggest exit from Number 1 in a conventional week is 13 places (to. no. 14). This has happened on two occasions; the Wu-Tang Clan's 1997 album "Wu-Tang Forever" and The Doves' "Some Cities" (2005).

Longest Span Of Album Chart-Toppers
Elvis Presley; 50 years, 9 months and 15 days. From "Elvis Is Back" (w/e 10th Nov 1956) to "The King" (w/e 25th Aug 2007).
The group record is held by The Beatles; 37 years, 8 months and 9 days (11th May 1963 to 20th Jan 2001).
Madonna has the greatest album chart-topping longevity of any woman; 24 years, 0 months, 12 days (21st Sep 1985 to 3rd Oct 2009).

Longest Span Of Hit Albums
Elvis Presley; 50 years, 11 months and 17 days. From "Rock 'N' Roll" (w/e 3rd Nov 1956) to "The King" (w/e 20th Oct 2007). Cliff Richard is a mere 6 months behind (see the notes on The Shadows, below).
Shirley Bassey has the greatest album longevity of any female soloist; 46 years, 5 months and 10 days (28th Jan 1961 to 7th Jul 2007).
The group record is held by The Shadows (50 years, 5 months, 15 days) from "Cliff" (w/e 18th Apr 1959) to "Reunited" (w/e 3rd Oct 2009), though they were actially know as The Drifters on the former of these albums. If we were to go by the fist album to feature "The Shadows" then this record is shortened to 49 years, 10 months and 19 Days (from "Cliff Sings" - w/e 14th Nov 1959). Either way, they beat The Rolling Stones into second place [43 years, 11 months and 24 days (25th Apr 1964 to 19th Apr 2008)].

Youngest Album Chart-Topper
Neil Reid was 12 years 9 months old when his self-titled album topped the chart in 1972.
Youngest girl to top the chart is Avril Lavigne. She was 17 years and 3 months old when she hit no. 1 with "Let Go" (2003).
Youngest group to top the album chart is McFly. When they made no. in July 2004 the average age of the four members was a shade over 18 years and 1 month [6618 days] (ranging from youngest member Dougie - 16 years, 7 months and 11 days, to the elder of the band, Tom, who was 18 years 11 months and 24 days.)

Youngest Top 10 Album Act
Lena Zavaroni was 10 years 146 days old when she took "Ma" into the charts (1974).

Longest Top 40 Album Title
"My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair, But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows" (78 letters - spaces and punctuation don't count) by Tyrannosaurus Rex (a hit in 1972 but first released in 1968).

Shortest Top 40 Album Title
A few albums have just one letter (or number) in their title. They are, in alpha-numeric order:
"A" - Jethro Tull (1982) / "K" - Kula Shaker (1996) / "L" - Steve Hillage (1976) / "O" - Damien Rice (2003) / "R" - R Kelly (1998) / "U" - Incredible String Band (1970) / "X" by INXS (1990) and by The Beloved (1996) and by Def Leppard (2002) and by Liberty X (2005) and by Kylie Minogue (2007) / "1" by Spandau Ballet (1983) and by The Beatles (2000) / "4" - Foreigner (1981) / "5" - by J.J. Cale (1979) and by Lenny Kravitz (1998) / "7" - S Club 7 (2000) / "9" - Public Image Ltd (1989) and Damien Rice (again!) (2006)

In Jul 2009, Billy Talent's album "III" became a hit. Some publications listed this as "3" so there is a case for including it in the list of shortest titles.

Global All-Time Top 20 Albums
The Top 20 Best-Selling albums of all time in the whole wide world are:

  1. "Thriller" - Michael Jackson    (60 million)
  2. "Black In Black" - AC/DC    (42m)
  3. "Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975" - The Eagles    (41m)
  4. "Saturday Night Fever" - (Soundtrack)    (40m)
  5. "Dark Side Of The Moon" - Pink Floyd    (40m)
  6. "Come On Over" - Shania Twain    (39m)
  7. "The Bodyguard" - (Soundtrack)    (37m)
  8. "Bat Out Of Hell" - Meat Loaf    (37m)
  9. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" - The Beatles    (32m)
  10. "Led Zeppelin IV" - Led Zeppelin    (32m)
  11. "Dirty Dancing" - (Soundtrack)    (32m)
  12. "Falling Into You" - Celine Dion    (32m)
  13. "Let's Talk About Love" - Celine Dion     (31m)
  14. "Rumours" - Fleetwood Mac     (30m)
  15. "Jagged Little Pill" - Alanis Morissette     (30m)
  16. "Titanic" - (Soundtrack)     (30m)
  17. "Millenium" - Backstreet Boys     (30m)
  18. "1" - The Beatles     (30m)
  19. "Abbey Road" - The Beatles     (30m)
  20. "Bad" - Michael Jackson     (29m)

Special thanks go to chart expert Hanboo for much of the information on this page.

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