Alice in Chains’ ‘Flies’ to top SoundScan chart

Seattle grunge rockers Alice in Chains hit the top spot on the SoundScan album chart this week according to numbers obtained by an industry source. The Columbia band’s acoustic “Jar of Flies” EP sold more than 141,000 copies, besting labelmate Mariah Carey’s “Music Box,” which slipped to No. 2 with sales of 98,000.

Alice in Chains’ previous album, “Dirt,” peaked at No. 6 in the fall of 1992 and has sold more than 2 million units in the United States.

Country star John Michael Montgomery appears to have beaten the sophomore jinx. His second Atlantic set, “Kickin’ It Up,” enters the chart this week at No. 3, on sales of more than 94,000. The Kentucky native’s 1992 debut, “Life’s a Dance,” has sold more than 1.5 million copies.

Also bowing this week is the new release from Columbia previous hitmakers NKOTB, formerly known as New Kids on the Block. The Boston-based, postpuberty hip-hop crew enters the chart at No. 37, on sales of nearly 27,000, far below the kind of figures the group enjoyed during its late-’80s peak.

The biggest sales gain of the week belongs to Celine Dion, whose 550 Music/Epic release “The Colour of My Love” moved from No. 20 to 16 on sales of 56,000, up from 46,000 last time. Also showing large gains were “Very Necessary” by Next Plateau rappers Salt-N-Pepa, moving from No. 10 to 7, and Jive hip-hopper R. Kelly, whose “12-Play” enters the top 10 at No. 9, up from 12.

Second-week sales from RCA’s multimillion-dollar free-agent duo of ZZ Top and Freddie Jackson were less than encouraging. ZZ Top’s “Antenna” slipped from No. 14 to 18 with stalled sales of 54,000, while Jackson’s “Here It Is” remained at No. 66 with sales of 14,000, both below label expectations.

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