Waylon and Elvis Grab Some Chart Action

Posthumous Compilations Enjoy Lively Retail Traffic

Great music doesn’t die. It just gets repackaged.

That’s the way it looks this week after Waylon Jennings and Elvis Presley scored the highest-debuting titles on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. With a shortage of brand new releases from current superstar acts, RCA’s marketing department devised a successful strategy to push Ultimate Waylon Jennings and Elvis: Ultimate Gospel.

Debuting at No. 16, the 22-song Jennings compilation begins with his 1968 smash “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line” and ends with 1987’s chart-topping “Rose in Paradise.” Containing 24 of his most popular gospel recordings, the Presley package enters the country chart at No. 30.

Also debuting this week are David Lee Murphy’s Tryin’ to Get There (at No. 46) and Merle Haggard’s two-CD set 40 #1 Hits. Also noteworthy is a return to the Top 10 for the Dixie Chicks with Top of the World Tour Live, although the concert recording still has not achieved platinum status after its 19th week on the chart. In comparison, Kenny Chesney’s When the Sun Goes Down is already double platinum just eight weeks after its release, and Toby Keith’s Shock’n Y’all is triple platinum even though it was released only two weeks before the Dixie Chicks’ disc.

Speaking of Chesney and Keith, When the Sun Goes Down spends its eighth week at No. 1 while Shock’n Y’all stays at No. 2 for another week. Climbing one notch to third and fourth place, respectively are Josh Turner’s Long Black Train and Keith Urban’s Golden Road. Alan Jackson’s Greatest Hits Volume II slips two notches to No. 5. At sixth and seventh place, respectively, for a second week are Chesney’s No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems and Gary Allan’s See If I Care. Rascal Flatts’ Melt climbs two rungs to No. 8, Martina McBride’s Martina stays at No. 9 and the Dixie Chicks round out the Top 10.

Chesney’s collaboration with Uncle Kracker on “When the Sun Goes Down” is hanging on to the top spot on Billboard’s country singles chart, but Urban’s “You’ll Think of Me” is providing some stiff competition by jumping from No. 6 to No. 2. Buddy Jewell’s “Sweet Southern Comfort” spends a second week in third place, Sara Evans’ “Perfect” slips two positions to No. 4 and Rascal Flatts’ “Mayberry” moves to No. 5 from No. 8. With Keith’s new single, “Whiskey Girl,” already getting airplay, his “American Soldier” drops to No. 6. Tim McGraw’s “Watch the Wind Blow By” drops to No. 7, John Michael Montgomery’s “Letters From Home” takes a three-space leap to No. 8 and Brad Paisley’s “Little Moments” loses momentum to No. 9. George Strait’s “Desperately,” written by Texas songwriters Bruce Robison and Monte Warden, moves up three slots to No. 10.

Paisley gets assistance from Alison Krauss on another song with a 90-proof title — “Whiskey Lullaby.” Written by Bill Anderson and Jon Randall, it’s the week’s highest-debuting country single. Other debuts include Rodney Atkins’ “Someone to Share It With” and Jimmy Wayne’s “You Are.”

Shannon Lawson’s “Smokin’ Grass” also enters the chart this week. Lawson co-wrote it with Billy Yates, whose credits include George Jones’ “Choices.” With a driving rhythm and acoustic instrumentation, the song is about bluegrass music and the hot pickers who play it. However, some radio program directors have been reluctant to add “Smokin’ Grass” to their playlists because they think it’s about something else altogether.

Calvin Gilbert has served as CMT.com’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.