Jackson’s ‘Drive’ speeds to top of charts

Georgia singer dislodges Creed from head spot

Creed’s eight-week hold on the album charts has finally been broken, as the latest release from country crooner Alan Jackson laid claim to the top spot with sales already nearing a half-million.

The affable Georgian moved just over 423,000 copies of his eighth studio LP, “Drive” (Arista), off the shelves in the latest session, according to data compiled by SoundScan. His disc’s high debut — the highest from a country artist since Garth Brooks’ “Scarecrow” (Capitol) in November — bucks a downward trend in country sales that has persisted since the boom of the mid-’90s.

Album sales were powered in part by Jackson’s smash single “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” which struck a nerve with record buyers in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 tragedies, industry observers said.

‘Weathered’ slides

Perf also bumped “Weathered” (Wind-Up), the gargantuan hit from alt metal heroes Creed, to No. 2, with sales declining 7% to 128,000. Still, this week’s numbers were more than enough to push “Weathered,” by far the best seller of the holiday season, past the 4 million mark.

The rest of the top 10 held their positions from last week for the most part, with a few notable exceptions: “8701,” the latest from R&B heartthrob Usher, gained four spots to No. 8, while Alicia Keys and the “Now 8” pop compilation both fell back four places to 12 and 13, respectively.

‘Divide’ looks to conquer

The second-highest debut of the week came from another country veteran, songwriter Willie Nelson, whose newest effort, “Great Divide” (Lost Highway), bowed at No. 43, with 23,000 copies scanned. Thirty-two slots behind Nelson is Frank Sinatra, whose greatest-hits release on Warner opened with sales of 16,000 discs.

Meanwhile, neo-soul chanteuse India.Arie continued to trade off her strong showing in the Grammy nominations, as her debut effort, “Acoustic Soul” (Motown), gained another 10 places to 111. Singer is in the running for seven statuettes.

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