Thursday, July 30, 2015

A yawning gap

Astral Weeks confounded many upon its release. There is no better evidence of this than where the album topped out on the U.K. album charts: #140. No, that extra zero is not a typo. Yes, 140 on the album charts is blushingly low.

Some context: Today, the bottom quarter or so of the Billboard 200 is generally reserved for well-curated greatest hits packages, the original soundtracks to blockbuster films, and those classic albums with enduring cross-generational appeal. For example, at #140 in this week's Billboard charts is the two-year-old soundtrack to the movie Frozen. It's three spots below Michael Jackson's Bad (release date: Aug. 31, 1987) and 10 spots above AC/DC's Back in Black (which turned 35 this past July). This area of the charts is like interstellar space, a cosmic vastness well beyond the starry influence of those artists and albums nestled in the top 10.

And so I've long wondered ... Is Astral Weeks's yawning gap between critical acclaim and pure units moved (33 years passed before it went Gold) wider than any other iconic album's?

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