Today in 1986: The best-selling CDs

TwitterThe best-selling compact disc in the UK for the week ending 13 December was the collection The Whole Story from Kate Bush, which was the third highest selling long-player overall in the official album chart. Gallup, who compiled the album chart, did not include sales of CDs in their calculations at that time, but the format was becoming increasingly popular: sales increased by almost three times from 1985 to 1986, and would then nearly double over the next twelve months. By the end of ’86, most new album titles were being released on CD as well as the usual vinyl and cassette formats; the strongest selling album for w/e 13 December not available on CD was the #11 title, Reminiscing… by Foster And Allen. (But then, given it was released by a record company named Stylus, that is understandable.) Spotlight Research compiled the CD chart, which for the week in question had the following Top 20 (position on the main album in brackets):

LP CD Artist, title
(3) 1 Kate Bush, The Whole Story
(4) 2 The Police, Every Breath You Take The Singles
(-) 3 Various, Now That’s What I Call Music ‘86
(21) 4 Dire Straits, Brothers In Arms
(-) 5 Various, QCD
(2) 6 Various, Hits 5
(6) 7 Paul Simon, Graceland
(16) 8 Eurythmics, Revenge
(41) 9 Peter Gabriel, So
(45) 10 Supertramp, The Autobiography of Supertramp
(17) 11 Huey Lewis And The News, Fore!
(27) 12 Bruce Springsteen and The E-Street Band, Live 1975-1985
(9) 13 Five Star, Silk And Steel
(18) 14 Spandau Ballet, Through The Barricades
(32) 15 Genesis, Invisible Touch
(82) 16 Elton John, Leather Jackets
(62) 17 Queen, Greatest Hit
(7) 18 Madonna, True Blue
(50) 19 Debbie Harry, Rockbird
(100) 20 China Crisis, What Price Paradise

With the hardware to play CDs still reasonably expensive, not everyone was looking to replace their turntables with a compact disc player at this time. Those who had invested in the technology did seem to be fans of 70s music: there were strong showings from former prog rockers like Supertramp, Genesis and Peter Gabriel and glam stars such as Queen and Elton John, even if – as in the case of the latter – the album wasn’t doing especially well in the general album chart. (See also China Crisis, whose album What Price Paradise, was barely on the album chart at all, but was still the 20th best-selling CD.) For the most part, the CD chart demonstrated what the grown-ups were buying, with its focus on “adult-oriented rock” (Huey Lewis, Bruce Springsteen; Dire Straits); fans of pop who had compact disc players were still favouring compilations, such as the CD-only collection Now That’s What I Call Music ‘86. But the presence of the current albums from acts like Spandau Ballet and Five Star showed that this was changing.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Dec. 13
No release scheduled for this date.


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