Fifty years ago on this day Elvis Presley released Roustabout, a soundtrack for the film of the same title, starring the performer. It was his eighth no. 1 album, an extension of his record for most albums atop the Billboard 200 by one artist (which would soon be surpassed for good by The Beatles). Interestingly enough, only eight acts have had at least eight albums top the American charts. We at Music Times decided to find out each of those acts' no. 8 no. 1 and measure them up against each other (the numbers next to the performer's name indicates how many total no. 1's they have today). From worst to first:
08) Roustabout by Elvis Presley (10)
He may have been the first to do it but he was also the worst to do it...and still is. In context, this ended a long streak of no. 1's from the rock star and would be his last top-placing album until 1973's Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite. Basically, following this album and the film that accompanied it, coupled with the still rising popularity of a certain British band, Presley's act was wearing thin. Anyone who has watched films from this era know that Presley was all these movies had to work with. It hardly mattered what he did onscreen or in the studio...it would sell. Elvis experts have gathered the recording dates of the tracks featured in Roustabout and you can see all ten happened within a five day period. Rushed and rough.
07) Emotional Rescue by The Rolling Stones (9)
Emotional Rescue grabbed audiences on both sides of the Atlantic when it dropped during 1980, becoming the band's first no. 1 in its homeland since Goats Head Soup during 1973. Unfortunately most of those buyers were inspired by the smash single title track, which bought into the lingering disco trend a tad shamefully (even though the genre had since formally been declared "dead"). The band would release its final U.S. no. 1 the next year with "Start Me Up," a much better album that would ultimately begin a nearly 35 year-run without a no. 1 on American shores. Who knows if we'll see another.
06) Higher Ground by Barbra Streisand (10)
The reason why we didn't outright say that the Stones would never have another no. 1 album is because of Barbra Streisand. The vocalist set an impressive mark during 2014 when her duets album Partners went to no. 1, giving her a top album in five consecutive decades dating back to the '60s. If we had to choose between an era to recommend her during, we would happily point you to Partners or even better, 1986's The Broadway Album. Although the single "Tell Him" at least has the appeal of Streisand singing with fellow diva extraordinaire Celine Dion, the range of influences on Higher Ground are a tad too disparate.
05) Scarecrow by Garth Brooks (9)
We recommend Scarecrow carefully for a number of reasons. The first of which being that the most momentous track on the album, "Beer Run (B Double E Double Are You In)" stands as an icon for any male who's taken part in an overly male activity (Catholic high school, fraternity, bachelor party, etc.). The downside is that track was probably stolen by Brooks' camp from originator Todd Snider. Considering the disdain which Brooks has shown toward the trend of "bro country" upon his 2014 return, we also hesitate to associate this track too much with him. Sure, "Wrapped Up In You" is his highest charting song ever on the Hot 100 but we'd still prefer Brooks' earlier albums.
04) MDNA by Madonna (8)
Only two performers on this list have as wide a run between their first and last no. 1 albums of original material but none generate as much controversy regarding the change in styles over nearly 30 years as Madonna does between Like A Virgin (1984) and MDNA (2012). Notable things that will bother many listeners: Madonna's adoption of hip-hop, notably from Nicki Minaj guest verses, and the fact that 2012 Madonna singing about things such as "Gang Bang" bothers people a lot more than 1984 Madonna singing "Like A Virgin." Ultimately this album is far from a disaster and far from classic. Hopefully 2015's Unapologetic Bitch will improve upon the formula.
03) Collision Course by Jay Z (13)...with Linkin Park
There was positively no way that Collision Course could end up as anything but no. 1. It featured the biggest rapper in the game along with Linkin Park at its peak of popularity. The two sides hardly had to record anything new, aside from Chester Bennington wondering where his f-----g Frappuccino was. This wasn't the first time, nor would it be the last where Jay went to no. 1 alongside another hot performer. Prior to the success of Collision Course he topped the charts with R. Kelly and Unfinished Business, as well as later with Kanye West for Watch The Throne. Few albums have generated reviews as varied as this EP but we loved its swag in high school and we still do.
02) Yesterday and Today by The Beatles (19)
It's crazy to consider how many time The Beatles got to the top of the Billboard 200 in such a short period. Pretty much everything the band was dropping in the States was getting eaten up, including four releases alone during 1964. No. 8 came with Yesterday and Today, a compilation of sorts that packaged songs already popular in the UK but hadn't received an American release yet. Sure, "Yesterday," "We Can Work It Out" and "Day Tripper" are great but what every Beatles fan remembers about this release was its amazing album art, featuring the band dressed as butchers, holding pieces of meat and chopped up baby dolls. It's such a contradictory image of what was, at the time, one of the most pop-friendly acts in existence and then...BOOM...baby slaughter. We dig the music too but definite bonus points for this album art.
01) Magic by Bruce Springsteen (10)
Part of the charm, as bleak as it is, during Bruce Springsteen's eighth no. 1, Magic, was that you have to look back to figure out what the singles were off of the album. "Radio Nowhere" was on the radio nowhere near us, that's for sure. It wasn't the first time that The Boss had been sad, been frustrated with the current state of affairs. But "Born In The USA" and "Thunder Road" always stuck in our conscious. Maybe listeners just didn't want to hear that stuff on the radio during 2007. Either way, enough people knew enough about Bruce Springsteen to know that the joy of listening was in the album and not on the radio. We'd argue for it as Bruce's best since the turn of the millennium.