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One Small Step for Billboard, One Giant Debut for the Eagles

Eagles: Not taking it easy on Britney.

Not that it hasn’t been doing so since enough people began buying and selling music for the trade to merit the term “industry,” but lately it’s become clearer than ever that the music industry is just making up the rules as it lurches along. In the latest bit of sleight of hand,

Billboard

modified its sales-tallying procedure

this week

to accommodate albums sold exclusively through one retailer. The change-prompting LP in question is

Long Road Out of Eden

, the Eagles’ first album of all-new material since 1979’s

The Long Run

, available only at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores,

www.walmart.com

and, of course, the L.A. country-rockers own Web site (

www.eaglesband.com

).

Although it has little chance of airplay on any station that spins “Hotel California” every hour on the hour, Billboard reports Eden – which also debuts as this week’s No. 1 country album - has sold more than 700,000 units since its October 30 release. That number is 2007’s second-highest opening-week count to date, behind only Kanye West’s Graduation (960,000), almost three times the sales of this week’s No. 2 album, Britney Spears’s Blackout (290,000). Rounding out the Top 5 are Carrie Underwood’s Carnival Ride, Avenged Sevenfold’s Avenged Sevenfold and Josh Turner’s Everything Is Fine.

Previously, Billboard had only allowed what it calls “Proprietary Albums” to be counted on its Top Comprehensive Albums chart, which also includes new and catalog titles. "We know that some retailers will be uncomfortable with this policy, but it was inevitable that Billboard's charts would ultimately widen the parameters to reflect changes that are unfolding in music distribution," said director of charts Geoff Mayfield.

Eden also opened at No. 1 in Australia and the UK. “How Long,” the first single, is currently No. 20 on Radio & Records’s Triple A chart and No. 26 on its country chart. The Eagles are expected to tour behind the album, but have not announced any dates yet. (RodeoHouston, anyone?) However, the band is scheduled to appear on tonight’s CMA Awards, airing at 7 p.m. on ABC. – Chris Gray


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