Sweet, Baby James! Singer-songwriter hero James Taylor has scored his first No. 1 on the U.S. album chart with “Before This World” after nearly half of a century in the music business. Taylor’s latest effort moved 97,000 copies in the week ending June 21, according to data from Nielsen Music.
In the 45 years since Taylor’s breakout record — “Sweet Baby James” was released in March of 1970 — 11 of Taylor’s albums have made it into the top 10 without ever making it to first place. According to Billboard, the only artist to achieve a No. 1 later into his career than Taylor is Tony Bennett, whose “Duets II” claimed the top spot in 2011, a mere 54 years after the 1957 debut of “Tony.”
Taylor’s milestone is a win for aging musicians. His album debuted in the same frame as new releases from three young solo artists — Adam Lambert, Hilary Duff and Nate Ruess, all under age 35 — and left them all in the dust.
Adam Lambert’s “Original High” moved 47,000 units, good for a third-place finish. The former “American Idol” contestant has enjoyed something of a resurgence with the success of the album’s lead single, “Ghost Town.”
Hilary Duff’s “Breathe in Breathe Out” finished at No. 5, moving 39,000 units. Duff’s latest cuts offer a mature take on the pop territory she famously explored on 2003’s “Metamorphosis,” which reached No. 1.
The fourth new release of the week came from former fun. frontman Nate Ruess. The singer’s “Grand Romantic,” his solo debut, finished at No. 7, having moved 31,000 units. The comparisons to Ruess’ former bandmate Jack Antonoff and his “Bleachers” (which debuted at No. 11 last year) are inevitable.
Apparently the top 10 can accommodate more than one Taylor. Taylor Swift — who, according to Swifty legend, was named after James Taylor — finished at No. 2 for the fifth week running. Sales for Swift’s “1989” were down 11% with 57,000 units moved.
Ed Sheeran’s “X” finished in fourth place, demonstrating remarkable staying power — the album dropped more than a year ago on June 20, 2014. Thanks to a well-publicized hosting stint at the Much Music Video Awards, Sheeran’s sales were up 17%, with “X” moving 39,000 units.
Country artist Sam Hunt’s “Montevallo” continues its slow climb up the chart, this time finishing at No. 6 with 32,000 units moved.
The lower portion of the top 10 is occupied by recent stand-bys. Meghan Trainor’s “Title” nabbed No. 8 with 27,000 units on the week, holding steady from the previous week. Maroon 5 was down 5%, reaching ninth place with “V” moving 27,000 units. Tenth place was claimed by Mumford & Sons, whose “Wilder Mind” was up 29%, leaping back into the top 10 after dwelling in the low teens for a few weeks.