Joe Nichols Has Best Debut Week Ever

Martina McBride, Keith Urban Still Rule the Country Charts

A splash of liquor helped Joe Nichols log his strongest chart debut yet when his third studio album, appropriately titled III, premiered at No. 2 on Billboard’s list of top country albums. Concurrently, one of the album’s tracks, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” climbs from No. 9 to No. 6 on Billboard’s country singles chart.

Nichols’ 2002 debut album, Man With a Memory, debuted at No. 12 on the country chart. Last year, his follow-up project, Revelation, entered the chart at No. 3. Later in 2004, Nichols also released a holiday project, A Traditional Christmas.

However, first-week sales of III weren’t enough to knock Martina McBride’s Timeless out of the top position. Following Nichols in third place is The Legend of Johnny Cash, a 21-track compilation of the Man in Black’s career from his early days at Sun Records, through his biggest hits at Columbia to his final triumph with the Nine Inch Nails song, “Hurt.”

Bouncing back two spaces to No. 4 is Rascal Flatts’ Feels Like Today. Slipping one notch each, Gretchen Wilson’s All Jacked Up and Faith Hill’s Fireflies land at No. 5 and 6, respectively. Gary Allan’s Tough All Over falls four spaces to No. 7 in its third week of release. After debuting last week at No. 2, Billy Currington’s Doin’ Somethin’ Right falls to No. 8. Sara Evans slides two notches to land at No. 9 with Real Fine Place. Keith Urban’s Be Here falls one rung to round out the Top 10.

Three country veterans also debuted new albums this week. Randy Travis arrives at No. 28 with Glory Train: Songs of Faith, Worship and Praise, Merle Haggard premieres at No. 54 with Chicago Wind and Collin Raye shows up at No. 73 with Twenty Years and Change.

On the country singles chart, Urban spends a fourth week at No. 1 with “Better Life,” with Rascal Flatts holding to No. 2 for a second week with “Skin (Sarabeth).” Kenny Chesney’s “Who You’d Be Today” rises one level to No. 3, but Dierks Bentley’s “Come a Little Closer” jumps four spaces to No. 4. LeAnn Rimes’ “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way” moves from No. 3 to No. 5, and Nichols follows at No. 6.

Garth Brooks can claim yet another Top 10 single. “Good Ride Cowboy,” his tribute to the late Chris LeDoux, takes a five-notch climb to No. 7. Lonestar’s “You’re Like Comin’ Home” moves up three slots to No. 8 while Montgomery Gentry’s recent No. 1, “Something to Be Proud Of,” slides two levels to No. 9 in its sixth month on the chart. Toby Keith’s “Big Blue Note” rises four levels to complete the Top 10.

The only new country single to debut this week is Lila McCann’s collaboration with pianist Jim Brickman. Their recording of “I’m Amazed” arrives at No. 59.

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