Well, this is what we got. An entire list of famous albums that never made it to #1.
24) Bob Dylan -- John Wesley Harding: Bob Dylan's late 1967 comeback LP was actually his highest charting album to date. Highway 61 Revisited made it to #3. Planet Waves would be his first #1 album! Thirteen years to score a #1 album? Obviously, his label should've dropped him and signed more acts who could've had hits right away! Let Bob sing for Arhoolie Reocrds!
22) Billy Joel -- The Stranger: Even with "Movin' Out," "Just The Way You Are," "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant," "Only the Good Die Young" and "She's Always A Woman," Billy was still held off from having an actual #1 album. What stopped him? Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and that Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Joel's next album, 52nd Street, would make it to #1.
20) Joni Mitchell -- Court and Spark / Miles of Aisles: Considering that Court and Spark is considered Joni's point of convergence, where her folk agreed to pop terms and before she got too abstract and weird, it's pretty puzzling that this and her double live album, Miles of Aisles, would be the best she could hope for at #2. Why do the masses hate artists?
18) Nine Inch Nails -- The Downward Spiral: It was the age of the alternative and no one personified this shift in consciousness more than Trent Reznor, who made the kind of music that just a few years earlier would've been shuttled to the culty part of the record store. To his credit, he made a big noise and did it, like Frank Sinatra and Sid Vicious, his way. Maybe more so. Since he was the guy at the controls. What a great era for My-Life's-In-The-Toilet rock!
16) R.E.M. -- Automatic For The People: R.E.M.? That band that signed to Warner Brothers for more than $100 million? And I thought only the New York Yankees signed people over the hill for past production? Wow!
14) George Michael -- Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1: There is such a thing as Too Famous. It depends how it's done. All artists are potentially one bad Billy Squier video away from having their careers crushed by the whims of the public imagination. Michael having come across as a sex symbol -- gee, wonder how that happened? -- decided it was time to brood. Had the album been released a year or two later, it would've looked like he was cashing in on the alterna-mope crowd. Here, he stood alone.
12) The Who -- Quadrophenia / Who Are You: This is actually better than it looks. Quad was a double album, so the people had to part with more of the money to get it. Who Are You came out in 1978, when if you think about it, new bands should've been breaking over the airwaves. Having the Who charting in 1978 would be like having Rosemary "Extra value is what you get when you buy Coronet" Clooney topping the charts in 1965!
10) Led Zeppelin -- IV: I guess not everyone went out and bought this when it first came out. Information took longer to get around in those days. Even magazines got around to reviewing things when they got around to them, instead of racing to be first and then moving on to the next big thing a week later. This album is with us for eternity. Or until "Rock and Roll" is no longer considered a surefire way of selling cars.
8) Alice Cooper -- School's Out: He released School's Out in June 1972, so maybe by the time the kids knew about it and saved up their allowance it was closer to September and therefore not as topical. Or maybe they grew suspicious upon seeing a song called "Gutter Cat Vs. The Jets" and decided to wait until their friends bought the album before making their own purchase. Or maybe home taping was killing music!
6) James Brown -- Live at The Apollo: No #1 albums for James Brown. You pay the price as an innovator. Better to do everything second or third, watered down and worse.
4) Aretha Franklin -- I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You: This was a far better showing than her years at Columbia Records. Not sure why Columbia didn't want to have massive success, but they left it to Atlantic Records to reap the rewards of all that talent. Not everyone's looking for a tax write-off!
2) Marvin Gaye -- Let's Get It On: Surely, it was 'Focus On Family' or some other dopey, joyless cult that shamed its members into not buying this work of sexual liberation and, therefore, denying Let's Get It On its rightful place at the top of the pop charts. What's Going On actually did worse! It came in at #6.
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