Strait flush for MCA

For the second week running, albums from MCA Records artists George Strait and Mary J. Blige nabbed the Nos. 1 & 2 spots, respectively, on the album sales charts, according to label execs.

Though Blige, from MCA’s pop side, and Strait, from MCA’s Nashville arm, traded places from the previous week, the pair maintained the Universal Music Group’s formidable presence on the upper regions of the chart.

UMG accounted for six of the Top 15 releases and a 17.3% market share of current releases. WEA logged a 15.67% and EMD clocked in at third with a 14.07%.

The sales list covering the 7-day period ending May 4 also sported a number of artists showing increases thanks to TV appearances and highly publicized promotional tie-ins.

Strait saw more than 179,000 copies of his “Carrying Your Love With Me” sold during the period, helped by an afterglow from his wins on the Academy of Country Music telecast, while Blige’s “Share My World” moved more than 153,000 copies.

Epic Records’ Indigo Girls earned its No. 7 berth on sales of 78,000 copies of “Shaming of the Sun,” its latest release. The duo benefited by ads for its upcoming pay-per-view concert, set for June 6.

U2 reversed the slide in sales of its “Pop” disc thanks to the highly publicized launch of its “PopMart” tour, which kicked off April 25 in Las Vegas.

More than 200 predominantly positive reviews of opening night helped move more than 51,000 copies of the disc and earned it the No. 15 spot. Additional tour stops and long-lead press items are likely to aid future sales.

The disc was among just nine of the Top 50 that showed sales increases from the previous week.

Virgin Records’ Spice Girls held the No. 3 spot, thanks in part to a controversy over an ancient dance routine and a press conference announcing their moving into film. Their self-titled bow logged sales of 149,000 copies, 4,000 more than last week.

“Life After Death,” the Bad Boy/Arista disc from the late Notorious B.I.G., held steady at No. 4 on sales of 118,000, a notch ahead of the 93,000 copies logged by the Atlantic Group’s soundtrack to “Space Jam.”

In sixth were Interscope Records’ Wallflowers, whose “Bringing Down the Horse” logged more than 79,000 copies; while LeAnn Rimes’ “Blue” rose two slots to No. 9 on sales of 74,000 discs.

Atlantic Records’ Jewel, who nabbed an award and performed on last week’s Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards, benefited from the exposure. Her “Pieces of You” disc earned the No. 8 spot on sales of 76,000 copies.

Universal Records’ Erykah Badu saw north of 71,000 copies of her debut, “Baduism,” cross registers to land in the No. 10 position.

Other discs benefiting from TV exposure included Columbia’s Savage Garden, whose appearance on the Kids Choice Awards also helped its self-titled disc ascend 10 spots to land at No. 32 on sales of 28,000 copies.

Tina Turner, whose appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” didn’t air until the day after the chart tally closed, saw her disc nonetheless buoyed by the talker’s tie-in with her tour and the frequent commercials touting the upcoming visit. Turner’s “Wildest Dreams” disc sold 7,500 copies, more than twice as many as last week’s run.

Chicago demonstrated the power of radio — talk radio, that is — as the band’s greatest hits set “Heart of Chicago” jumped 19 spots on 17,000 in sales thanks to the an appearance on Michael Jackson’s KABC radio show. The disc was among a handful on the chart jumping in double digits.

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