Bob Marley & the Wailers' Legend returns to #1 on the Top Catalog Albums chart. This is the album's 112th week at #1 since 1991, when Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard. That's more weeks on top than the two closest runners-up combined. (They are Creed's My Own Prison, with 54 weeks at #1, and the Grease soundtrack, with 52 weeks on top.)
Catalog albums are albums that have been in release long enough to have passed their commercial peak. But many continue to sell at a steady clip. Sometimes, events (a hit movie, a Grammy sweep, the artist's death) bring them back to the top 10.
Twenty-five albums have logged 12 or more weeks at #1 on Top Catalog Albums since 1991. Eleven of those albums are greatest hits sets or compilations, such as the Marley retrospective and Eric Clapton's Time Pieces/The Best Of Eric Clapton. Nine are regular studio albums.
Three holiday albums have logged 12 or more weeks at #1 on the catalog chart: Kenny G's Miracles: The Holiday Album, Mannheim Steamroller's A Fresh Aire Christmas and Now That's What I Call Christmas!
Two Various Artists compilations made the grade: I Can Only Imagine: Ultimate Power Anthems Of The Christian Faith and the aforementioned Now That's What I Call Christmas!
One movie soundtrack qualifies. Grease sold so well as a catalog album that Paramount re-released the John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John film theatrically in March 1998, a few months before the 20th anniversary of the film's original release.
Since 1991, only one act has had two albums that topped the catalog chart for 12 or more weeks. Creed held the top spot for 54 weeks with My Own Prison and 13 weeks with Human Clay. That's a sign of how massive the band was for a few years at the turn of the century.
Two of these albums topped the catalog chart for the first time the week after the artist died. That was the case with Johnny Cash's 16 Biggest Hits and Michael Jackson's Number Ones. Ray Charles' The Very Best of Ray Charles hit #1 on the catalog chart for the first time four months after his death.
Here's a complete list of all albums that have logged 12 or more weeks at #1 on the Top Catalog Albums chart since 1991. Each entry is tagged with the album's original peak on what is now known as The Billboard 200, and, where necessary, an updated peak.
1. Bob Marley & the Wailers, Legend. The reggae icon's 1984 compilation has amassed 112 weeks at #1. It first topped the catalog chart in May 1993. It returns to #1 this week. Original peak: #54. Updated peak: #18.
2. Creed, My Own Prison. The critically-maligned band's 1997 debut album spent 54 weeks at #1 from January 2000 to April 2001. That's the record for a debut album and for a rock album. It spawned the chart hits "My Own Prison" and "One." Original peak: #22.
3. Movie Soundtrack, Grease. The 1978 album spent 52 weeks at #1 from October 1996 to August 1998. That's the record for a soundtrack and for a pop album. The album spawned four top five hits, including two that made #1: Frankie Valli's "Grease" and John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John's "You're The One That I Want." Original peak: #1 for 12 weeks.
4. Adele, 19. The British singer's 2008 debut album spent 41 weeks at #1 from February 2011 to June 2012. That's the record for an album by a female solo artist. The album spawned the top 20 hit "Chasing Pavements." Adele won six Grammys in February 2012. Original peak: #10. Updated peak: #4.
5. Metallica, Metallica. The band's 1991 blockbuster spent 40 weeks at #1 from January 1998 to July 2003. That's the record for a hard rock album. The album spawned the top 20 hit "Enter Sandman." Original peak: #1 for five weeks.
6. Eric Clapton, Time Pieces/The Best Of Eric Clapton. The rock veteran's 1982 compilation spent 37 weeks at #1 from February 1992 to March 1993. That's the record for an album by a male solo artist. Clapton won six Grammys in February 1993. Original peak: #101.
7. Michael Jackson, Number Ones. The pop legend's 2003 compilation spent 28 weeks at #1 from June 2009 to March 2010. That's the record for an R&B album (though of course these hits crossed over to many formats). The movie Michael Jackson's This Is It opened in October 2009. Original peak: #13. Note: The album would have logged six weeks at #1 in the summer of 2009 if catalog albums had been eligible to compete on The Billboard 200 at that time.
8. Beastie Boys, Licensed To Ill. The hip-hop trio's 1986 debut album logged 27 weeks at #1 from June 1995 to May 2012, when it returned to the top spot following the death of Adam Yauch. That's the record for a hip-hop album. The album spawned the top 10 hit "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)" Original peak: #1 for seven weeks.
8. Kenny G, Miracles: The Holiday Album. The saxophonist's 1994 holiday album spent 27 weeks at #1 from October 1995 to December 1998. That's the record for a holiday album. Original peak: #1 for three weeks.
10. Johnny Cash, 16 Biggest Hits. The country legend's 1999 compilation logged 26 weeks at #1 from September 2003 to July 2006. That's the record for a country album. The movie Walk The Line opened in November 2005. Original peak: #185. Updated peak: #133.
11. Pink Floyd, The Dark Side Of The Moon. The English group's 1973 classic logged 22 weeks at #1 from April 1993 to October 2011. Will it one day return to #1? Count on it. The album spawned the top 20 hit "Money." Original peak: #1 for one week.
11. Meat Loaf, Bat Out Of Hell. The theatrical rocker's 1977 album logged 22 weeks at #1 from August 1991 to March 1994. This was his first solo album, following a 1971 release as half of Stoney & Meatloaf. Bat Out Of Hell spawned the top 20 hit "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad." Original peak: #14.
13. The Righteous Brothers, Best Of The Righteous Brothers. The veteran duo's 1990 compilation logged 19 weeks at #1 from May to November 1991. The success was largely due to the 1990 movie Ghost, which featured "Unchained Melody" over the famous "pottery wheel" scene. Original peak: #161.
14. Mannheim Steamroller, A Fresh Aire Christmas. The instrumentalist's 1988 holiday album logged 17 weeks at #1 from December 1991 to December 1994. Original peak: #36.
14. Enya, Watermark. The new age star's 1989 album logged 17 weeks at #1 from March to September 1992. This was Enya's first formal studio album, following a 1987 soundtrack to a BB documentary, The Celts. Watermark spawned the top 30 hit "Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)." Original peak: #25.
16. Eagles, Eagles/Greatest Hits 1971-1975. The genre-busting band's 1976 compilation logged 14 weeks at #1 from June 1991 to November 2007. Original peak: #1 for five weeks.
16. Various Artists, Now That's What I Call Christmas!. The 2001 holiday compilation logged 14 weeks at #1 from November 2002 to December 2005. That's the record for a Various Artists compilation. The double-disk set includes artists ranging from Bing Crosby to Bruce Springsteen. Original peak: #3.
16. Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine. Trent Reznor's 1990 debut album logged 14 weeks at #1 from September 1994 to April 1995. The album spawned "Head Like A Hole," which "bubbled under" the Hot 100. Original peak: #75.
19. Guns N Roses, Greatest Hits. The rock band's 2004 compilation logged 13 weeks at #1 from January 2007 to March 2012. Original peak: #3.
19. Creed, Human Clay. The band's 1999 album logged 13 weeks at #1 from December 2001 to March 2002. The album spawned two top 10 hits: "Higher" and the chart-topping "With Arms Wide Open." Original peak: #1 for two weeks.
21. The Beatles' 1. The band's 2000 compilation logged 12 weeks at #1 from January 2003 to September 2011 (when the Beatles' catalog was finally released digitally). Original peak: #1 for eight weeks.
21. Various Artists, I Can Only Imagine: Ultimate Power Anthems Of The Christian Faith. The compilation, first released in 2004, logged 12 weeks at #1 from April 2008 to March 2009. That's the record for a Contemporary Christian album. The title derives from MercyMe's "I Can Only Imagine," which is included on the two-disk set. Original peak: #49.
21. Ray Charles, The Very Best Of Ray Charles. The genre-bridging legend's 2000 compilation logged 12 weeks at #1 from October 2004 to April 2005. The bio-pic Ray opened in October 2004. Charles won five Grammys posthumously in February 2005. Original peak: didn't chart.