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Bestselling CDs

Notable CDs | The five bestselling Internet albums according to Billboard on Nov. 19

WHEREVER YOU ARE

WEEKS ON CHART 1

STYLE Anthemic rock with grunge roots.

WORLDVIEW "There is hope for the helpless, / rest for the weary, love for the broken heart. / There is grace and forgiveness, / mercy and healing. / He'll meet you wherever you are" ("Cry Out to Jesus").

OVERALL QUALITY As explicit and eloquent a declaration of Christian faith as has ever enjoyed major-label support (Sony/BMG) or muscled its way to the top of a meaningful Billboard chart.

ALL THAT I AM

WEEKS ON CHART 1

STYLE Frenetic Latino-rock jamming and cross-promotional celebrity duets.

WORLDVIEW That the best way to market the 58-year-old Carlos Santana is to star-stud his albums with singers capable of appealing to various youth-oriented demographics (Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, Mary J. Blige, Big Boi, will.i.am, Los Lonely Boys, and American Idol's Bo Bice).

OVERALL QUALITY Like hearing two distinct albums (vintage Santana and Now 20, for instance) simultaneously.

SHINE

WEEKS ON CHART 1

STYLE Idyllic, sun-drenched, Grateful Dead--influenced rock 'n' roll.

WORLDVIEW Drift and let drift ("Come out of the cold and drift in still water . . . slow dancing with the trees all around . . . it all seems thin, but it sure feels good . . . currents on an endless sea, what I want to carry me . . . roses float across the water . . . you'll be borne on the winds").

OVERALL QUALITY Wide-awake melodies, sound-asleep lyrics.

THANKS FOR THE MEMORY

WEEKS ON CHART 3

STYLE Vintage show tunes and Sam Cooke's "You Send Me."

WORLDVIEW "Success is great, but even sweeter when you get to experience it with the gifted, passionate, hard-working and-equally important to me-fun-loving professionals at J Records. And just think, this is only Volume IV" (the notes).

OVERALL QUALITY As tasteful and suave as the first three volumes, but Mr. Stewart should remember what familiarity can breed.

FILLMORE WEST 1969

WEEKS ON CHART 1

STYLE LSD-distended folk and blues jams.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL Some rough language in the liner booklet.

WORLDVIEW That these quintessential hippies were more entertaining as hirsute, acid-addled, boundary-testing youth than they were as hirsute, acid-addled, boundary-respecting rock professionals.

OVERALL QUALITY Whereas acolytes (of both the Dead and LSD) will see visions and dream dreams, sobriety freaks will bemoan the sloppiness inevitable when playing under the wrong influences.

In the spotlight

All prerecorded music that exchanges hands for money is "commercial" to the extent that its makers hope to realize a profit. But when the emphasis on profit is as obvious as it is on Rod Stewart's Thanks for the Memory: The Great American Songbook Vol. IV (J) and Carlos Santana's All That I Am (Arista), even the least cynical listener will begin to feel manipulated. Both albums follow their respective performers' most recently proven multiplatinum formulas so unswervingly that little in the way of spontaneity or personality comes through.

The dulling effect that results is particularly regrettable given the worthiness of Mr. Stewart's voice and material (American pop standards) and the virtuosity of Mr. Santana's electric guitar work (still incendiary after nearly 40 years). One can only hope that both performers soon grow bored with burnishing the golden calf and resume taking the sorts of artistic risks that made them popular enough to become professionally lazy in the first place.

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