Lightning Rod debut

Stewart strikes again with 'Rock' album

Rod Stewart’s return to rock music debuted at No. 1, buoyed by the singer’s string of recent TV appearances, including a spot on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

“Still the Same: Great Rock Classics of Our Time” sold 184,000 copies for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen SoundScan, becoming Stewart’s fifth J Records album to debut in the top five.

Stewart inked with Clive Davis’ J in 2002 and recorded four albums of standards; his return to rock started with the duo agreeing to cut Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee” (Daily Variety, Feb. 6). Disc is Stewart’s first rock album to hit No. 1 in 27 years — “Blondes Have More Fun” was the last, and it was one of six Stewart albums to reach the top 10 in the 1970s.

Stewart has been promoting the album with appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Good Morning America,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” “The View,” “A&E Biography,” “CBS Early Show,” “Jimmy Kimmel,” “Martha Stewart,” “Rachael Ray Show,” and multiple appearances on “Entertainment Tonight,” “Access Hollywood,” “Extra,” “CNN Showbiz Tonight,” and “E! News Live.”

Stewart also performed at a sold-out concert at the Nokia Theatre in Times Square that was broadcast live by Control Room on and into 116 National CineMedia movie theaters on the eve of the album’s release.  Concert was also broadcast on Premiere Radio stations.

Coincidentally, some of Stewart’s finest interpretations of rock and blues classics — from his days singing in the Jeff Beck Group — were reissued Oct. 10. Epic/Legacy issued expanded versions of “Truth” and “Beck-ola,” from 1968 and ’69, respectively, both of which sold about 500 copies each.

Stewart outsold last week’s chart-topper, Evanescence’s “Open Door” (Wind-up), which dropped a notch as sales slid 63% to 164,000,.

In third is G-Unit rapper Lloyd Banks’ “Rotten Apples” (Interscope), which sold 143,000. Tally is a distant cry from the first-week sales of his 2004 debut, which moved 434,000 units.

“Take the Weather With You” is Jimmy Buffett’s eighth consecutive non-holiday studio album to land in the top 10. RCA Nashville disc, named for Buffett’s version of the Neil Finn-Crowded House classic, sold 121,000, debuting at No. 4.

Alabama country sextet Heartland debuted at No. 11, selling 61,000 copies of “I Loved Her First.” Album is the highest-charting disc for the four-year-old Nashville indie Lofton Creek Records.

Senses Fail nearly doubled the sales of their 2004 debut with “Still Searching” (Vagrant), moving 49,000 units and opening at No. 15. Act credits an enthusiastic fan base that has played their songs posted on MySpace 10 million times.

Other debuts included Florida-based metal act Trivium’s “Crusade” (Roadrunner), which sold 31,000 (No. 25); Sting’s journey into the lute, “Songs From the Labyrinth” (Deutsche Grammophon) , which was promoted with an appearance on “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” strung up 24,000 (No. 37); and “Sammie,” the first album in six years from 19-year-old Miami singer Sammie, sold 20,000 (No. 42).

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