Neil Diamond grabs first chart-topper

'Home Before Dark' propelled by 'Idol' appearance

NEW YORK -- In another busy week in the top tier of the Billboard 200, Neil Diamond's "Home Before Dark" zooms in at No. 1, becoming his first chart-topping album. The Columbia set got a big plug when Diamond appeared on "American Idol" two weeks ago, bolstering its 146,000 first-week U.S. sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The Rick Rubin-produced "Home" is Diamond's biggest debut sales week since SoundScan began tracking in 1991. He first appeared on Billboard's charts in 1966 with "The Feel of Neil Diamond"; the closest he ever got to No. 1 was with the 1973 soundtrack to "Jonathan Livingston Seagull," which reached No. 2.

With 103,000 units, Toby Keith's double-disc collection "35 Biggest Hits" (Show Dog Nashville) bows at No. 2. The country star has scored three prior No. 1 albums and two No. 2s.

Meanwhile, Madonna's "Hard Candy" (Warner Bros.) falls from the top slot to No. 3, moving 94,000 with a 66% slip. "American Idol" star Clay Aiken debuts at No. 4 with "On My Way Here" (RCA), with a slightly less total than "Hard Candy." Aiken's last studio album, 2006's "A Thousand Different Ways," started at No. 2 with the much larger sum of 211,000.

Mariah Carey's Island Def Jam album "E=MC2" continues its decline from No. 2 to No. 5 with 87,000 (-9%), and Leona Lewis' "Spirit" (Syco/J) slips from No. 3 to No. 6 with 76,000 (a 10% drop).

Gavin DeGraw's self-titled sophomore effort from J Records climbs on board at No. 7 with 66,000. Interest was spurred by the single "In Love with a Girl," which has peaked at No. 34 thus far on the Hot 100. "Gavin DeGraw" easily trumps the No. 103 peak of 2004's "Chariot" and the subsequent entry of "Chariot -- Stripped" at No. 56.

Josh Groban's concert CD/DVD "Awake Live" (Reprise) starts at No. 8 with 58,000, his seventh album to chart on The Billboard 200. Another country mainstay scores a top 10 spot with a hits collection, as Dierks Bentley's "Greatest Hits: Every Mile a Memory" (Capitol Nashville) opens at No. 9 with 43,000. His most recent studio album, "Long Trip Home," peaked at No. 5 in 2006.

Latin superstar Luis Miguel claims his highest charting album ever, as "Complices" takes a bow at No. 10 with 32,000. "Complices" (Warner Music Latina) also gives Miguel his eighth No. 1 on the Top Latin Albums chart -- the most of any artist in the history of the list.

Back on the 200, Tye Tribbett & G.A.'s "Stand Out" (Columbia) stands out with a No. 16 debut (26,000), and German rock troupe Tokio Hotel's "Scream" (Interscope) enters at No. 39 with 16,000.

Album sales this week are up 6.9% from last week's sum with 8.12 million units and down 4.6% from the same week last year.
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