McCartney bow: ‘Pie’ in the sky

Paul McCartney scored his highest chart debut in more than 27 years with the entry of “Flaming Pie,” which nabbed the No. 2 spot on the nation’s sales chart. More than 123,000 copies of the Capitol Records album were sold in its first week of domestic release, which trailed the Spice Girls — who held the top spot for the fourth consecutive week — by only 15,000 copies.

The strong bow for McCartney came despite a relatively low profile by the former Beatle, who did only a handful of interviews and promotional stops in advance of the release of the disc. Sales for the period ended Sunday were no doubt boosted by radio acceptance of the first single “The World Tonight” and repeated airings of the vid on VH1. The cabler has made McCartney its Artist of the Month for June.

“Paul made a great record that came from his heart and one that is about something,” Capitol Records prexy Gary Gersh told Daily Variety. “Fans have sensed this and have responded to it in a big way.”

Fans also have flocked to B’Rite/Interscope Records’ “God’s Property From Kirk Franklin’s Nu Nation,” a gospel album that landed the No. 3 spot thanks to extensive radio airplay on R&B stations and a strong, multitiered marketing push by the labels in the gospel, pop and R&B markets.

The success of the disc also will likely help Interscope, which has been blasted for its ties to gangsta rap, to soften its controversial image. The disc logged more than 120,000 copies during the seven-day period, which didn’t include the nearly 5,000 copies sold under the sales chart radar during the previous week.

EMD, the distribution outfit for the Capitol-EMI label family, continued its second week as the market-share leader with 17.34% of current album sales. It was followed by Universal’s solid 14.75%, WEA’s 13.52%, BMG’s 12.72%, Polygram’s 11.94% and Sony’s 11.46%.

Mercury Records’ teen trio Hanson saw its stock rise to the tune of 108,000 albums as its “Middle of Nowhere” disc jumped two notches to the No. 4 post. A small sales goose was no doubt achieved as a result of a May 26 appearance on “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee.”

Bob Carlisle’s Diadem/Jive Records disc “Butterfly Kisses (Shades of Grace)” moved 106,000 units, keeping it in the list’s top five. The disc’s title track continues to be a pop radio staple and reports of the album’s success over the past three weeks have sparked additional consumer demand.

Notorious B.I.G’s “Life After Death” continues its lengthy run near the chart’s top, landing this week at No. 6 on sales of 83,000 copies. The Bad Boy/Arista disc has spent 10 weeks in the chart’s upper reaches and more than 2 million copies have rung registers since its bow.

MCA Records continues its one-two punch with Mary J. Blige and George Strait, who occupied the sixth and seventh spots, respectively. More than 73,000 copies of Blige’s “Share My World” disc were sold, while Strait’s “Carrying Your Love With Me” was scanned more than 72,000 times.

The Wallflowers’ Interscope disc “Bringing Down the Horse” sold more than 70,000 copies and earned the No. 9 spot. It led the Warner Bros. soundtrack “Space Jam,” which nabbed the No. 10 spot on sales of 69,000 copies.

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