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Bestselling CDs

Notable CDs | The top five bestselling pop catalog albums according to Billboard magazine, Oct. 9

Issue: "2004 Election: Countdown," Oct. 23, 2004

Bestselling CDs

The top five bestselling pop catalog albums according to Billboard magazine, Oct. 9

1. LEGEND - Bob Marley and the Wailers

Weeks on chart: 782

Style: The most popular, catchy, and influential reggae of all time.

Objectionable material: None, but an unsentimental understanding of this music's Rastafarian underpinnings is advised.

Worldview: Explicitly: that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are worth getting up, standing up, and fighting for; implicitly: that smoking marijuana is a sacrament and that slain Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie is the Messiah.

Overall quality: Buoyant, catchy, determined, joyful.

2. 1 - The Beatles

Weeks on chart: 202

Style: The most popular, catchy, and influential rock 'n' roll of all time.

Objectionable material: "The Ballad of John and Yoko" if John Lennon is taking Christ's name in vain; none if he's only spoofing his notorious "The Beatles are bigger than Jesus" comment.

Worldview: We can work it out because all you need is love, so let's come together and let it be.

Overall quality: Buoyant, catchy, determined, joyful.


Weeks on chart: 1,417

Style: The most popular and influential progressive rock of all time.

Objectionable material: "Money" (obscenity).

Worldview: "For long you live and high you fly / And smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry / And all you touch and all you see / Is all your life will ever be" ("Breathe").

Overall quality: Spacey, sophomorically cynical, and largely responsible for the popularity of Laserium shows.


Weeks on chart: 109

Style: U2 slowed down with the emphasis on piano instead of on guitar.

Worldview: Noncommittal, with non sequiturs where the epiphanies should be: "Where do we go? Nobody knows. / Don't ever say you're on your way down when / God gave you style and gave you grace / And put a smile upon your face, oh yeah."

Overall quality: Yet another triumph of style over substance.


Weeks on chart: 34

Style: British punk enlivened by reggae, rockabilly, and pop.

Objectionable material: "Death or Glory" (profanity), "Jimmy Jazz," "Lovers Rock," "Four Horsemen" (crudities).

Worldview: "The Ice Age is coming, the sun zooming in. / Engines stop running, and the wheat is growing thin. / A nuclear error, but I have no fear. / London is drowning-and I live by the river."

Overall quality: Its strength lies in its musical and topical diversity.

In the spotlight

London Calling, the third album by the British punk band the Clash, has long benefited publicity-wise from being released in December 1979 in England and in January 1980 in America. Besides making two different critics' year-end best-of lists, it is also referred to as one of the best albums of the 1970s in one country and of the 1980s in another. Faced with marking its silver anniversary this year or next, Sony chose the former and, as a result, has been rewarded with a gold record sooner rather than later. London Calling: 25th Anniversary Legacy Edition (Legacy/Epic) consists of the original album, a disc of rehearsal tapes, and a DVD documentary of the album's making. That the music has remained popular for 25 years is, in a way, a testament to humility, for only by abandoning punk's stiff-arming purism and embracing older non-punk styles and attitudes was the Clash able to make what many now consider the definitive "punk" statement.


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