'Long Way' defies group's detractors

Country radio may not be helping them much lately, but that didn’t stop Dixie Chicks from claiming a third No. 1 album in their career as “Taking the Long Way” (Columbia) debuted with sales of 526,000 copies for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The biggest-selling female group in history will hold its first concert perf in two years on June 15 at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London, where lead singer Natalie Maines made comments about President Bush in 2003 that initiated a backlash. North American tour begins in July and reaches Staples Center Sept. 14.

Disc displaced another Rick Rubin-produced record for the top spot as Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Stadium Arcadium” (Warner Bros.) dropped to No. 5 after spending two weeks at No. 1, moving 113,000 more units.

Compilations are prominent among this week’s top sellers: Disney’s “High School Musical” jumped from No. 4 to No. 2 in the wake of its DVD release, with 175,000 CDs sold — an increase of more than 100%; “American Idol Season 5: Encores” (RCA) bowed at No. 3 with 154,000 sold, the best week for a disc in the “Idol” series; and “WWE: Wreckless Intent” (Columbia), featuring various hard rock, metal and rap songs tied to pro wrestlers, muscled 66,000 units to enter at No. 8.

Two other new entrants to the top 10 were “We Don’t Need to Whisper” (Geffen), the debut effort from Angels & Airwaves, led by former Blink-182 front man Tom DeLonge, which grabbed the fourth slot with 127,000 copies; and “King of Kings” (Machete Music) from Don Omar, one of Latin America’s best-known reggaeton artists, which hit No. 7, selling 68,000.

Lyric Street/Hollywood country act Rascal Flatts maintained the No. 6 spot for the third week in a row as “Me and My Gang” sold 85,000 discs.

Volcano rock group Tool’s “10,000 Days” edged “Idol” warbler Carrie Underwood’s “Some Hearts” (Arista) for the ninth and 10th positions, respectively, as each sold 65,000. “Days” dropped from No. 3 last week, while “Hearts” soared from No. 22, likely boosted by her appearance on this season’s “Idol” finale.

Only other prominent bows came from the Wreckers — a country outing from pop thrush Michelle Branch and her friend and collaborator Jessica Harp — whose “Stand Still, Look Pretty” (Maverick) landed at No. 14 on 44,000 sold; and the Def Leppard collection of covers “Yeah!” (Island), which followed closely behind at No. 16, selling 42,000.

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