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Chart Watch Extra: Showing The Flag

Chart Watch

To help get you in the mood for the Fourth of July, here's a roundup of notable albums from the past four decades whose covers feature the American flag. The uses range from super-patriotic (John Wayne's America, Why I Love Her and Lee Greenwood's American Patriot) to satiric (Team America: World Police) and even biting (Ice Cube's Death Certificate). All demonstrate the freedom we have in America to editorialize, which is one of the liberties this day is celebrating.

This gallery doesn't include every significant album to feature the flag on its cover, but it constitutes a healthy cross-section. Is your favorite here? The albums are shown in chronological order.

Sly & the Family Stone, There's A Riot Goin' On. The group's fourth studio album topped The Billboard 200 for two weeks in December 1971. It included the #1 hit "Family Affair." The waving American flag, with suns in place of stars, seems ironic, given how fractured the country was at the time.

Don McLean, American Pie. McLean's second album topped the chart for seven weeks in early 1972. The title track hit #1 on the Hot 100 and became one of the most talked-about singles of its time.

John Wayne, America, Why I Love Her. The Duke released this album in the spring of 1973, when such unabashed displays of patriotism were seen as uncool. Wayne, who had won an Oscar for True Grit three years before, was at the peak of his iconic fame. The album, which included "The Pledge Of Allegiance" and "Taps," climbed to #66.

Curtis Mayfield, Back To The World. Mayfield's third regular studio album topped the R&B Albums chart for two weeks in July 1973. It peaked at #16 on The Billboard 200. The album, which addressed the concerns of a Vietnam veteran coming back to the States, featured the top 40 hit "Future Shock."

Johnny Cash, Ragged Old Flag. The country music legend took this issue-oriented album to #16 on the country chart in 1974. It was Cash's first album on which he wrote all the songs by himself.

Bruce Springsteen, Born In The U.S.A. The Boss' seventh album was #1 for seven weeks in 1984. It spawned seven top 10 singles, a feat previously accomplished only by Michael Jackson's Thriller.

Various Artists, Top Gun soundtrack. The soundtrack to the movie that made Tom Cruise a megastar was #1 for five weeks in 1986. It spawned Berlin's #1 hit "Take My Breath Away," which won the Oscar for Best Original Song. Cruise's co-star Kelly McGillis is also seen on the cover.

Beastie Boys, Licensed To Ill. The flag is painted on the airplane on the cover of the trio's debut album, which logged seven weeks at #1 in 1987. It spawned the top 10 hit "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)."

Ice Cube, Death Certificate. The flag is draped over a corpse in the morgue on the cover of Ice Cube's third solo album. The album topped the R&B chart for three weeks in December 1991 and reached #2 on The Billboard 200. The toe tag reads "Uncle Sam."

Lee Greenwood, American Patriot. Greenwood's album contained his 1984 recording "God Bless The U.S.A." The album didn't chart when it was first released in 1992, but it had a huge impact after the 9/11 attacks of 2001. It topped the Catalog Albums chart for nine weeks.

Garth Brooks, The Hits. Brooks' first hits compilation was #1 for eight weeks in 1995. He took Don McLean's body-painting idea to the extreme.

Garth Brooks, Double Live. Brooks has flags of many nations on the cover of his 1998 double-disk live album, which was #1 for five weeks in 1998. The album spawned the chart hit "It's Your Song."

Everclear, Songs From An American Movie Vol. Two: Good Time For A Bad Attitude. The rock trio's fourth album reached #66 in 2000. It featured "When It All Goes Wrong Again."

Brooks & Dunn, Steers & Stripes. The duo's seventh studio album topped the Country Albums chart in May 2001. It reached #4 on The Billboard 200. The title, a play on "Stars & Stripes," addresses two key aspects of country culture-cowboys and patriotism. The album spawned three top 40 hits, including "Only In America."

Martina McBride, Greatest Hits. McBride's first hits compilation topped the Country Albums chart for three weeks in October 2001, just weeks after the 9/11 attacks. It reached #5 on The Billboard 200.

Various Artists, God Bless America. This all-star compilation hit #1 in November 2001, less than two months after the 9/11 attacks. The album raised money for the Twin Towers Fund. The guest list ran from Mahalia Jackson to Mariah Carey; from Pete Seeger to Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band.

Various Artists, America: A Tribute To Heroes. This album consists of performances from a telethon that aired on Sept. 21, 2001 to raise money for the Sept. 11 Disaster Relief Fund. Bruce Springsteen's "My City Of Ruins" and Billy Joel's "New York State Of Mind" are among the highlights. The compilation reached #17.

Darryl Worley, Have You Forgotten? Worley's third album topped the Country Albums chart for four weeks in May 2003. It reached #4 on The Billboard 200. The title song, which referenced the 9/11 attacks, became a top 30 hit.

Soundtrack, Team America: World Police. This soundtrack was released in November 2004, the month that voters re-elected George W. Bush as President. Such songs as "America, F**k Yeah" tweaked the gung-ho fervor of the times. The animated movie was the work of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the twisted masterminds behind South Park and The Book Of Mormon. The soundtrack reached #98.

Saving Abel, Miss America. The rock band's second studio album reached #24 in 2010. It featured "The Sex Is Good."

Hinder, All American Nightmare. The rock band's third album reached #37 in 2010. It featured "Life." The tattered flag reinforces the album's title.

Rise Against, Endgame. The rock band's sixth album peaked at #2 in April 2011. The traditional image also features amber waves of grain and a farmhouse.

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