From Music Week supplement.
Sgt. Pepper has a fairly modest chart career compared to many albums – it ranks 18th in the longevity league, with 203 weeks on the chart but has been a consistent performer for more than 40 years, accumulating sales of more than 4,910,000 up to the cut-off point a couple of weeks ago. As vast as that tally is, there is one album which has sold more copies – Queen’s Greatest Hits. It is an album which was first released in 1981, cherry-picking their most successful singles, from their introductory 1974 smash Seven Seas Of Rhye to 1980’s Flash. Released on October 26 1981, it debuted at number two behind Shakin’ Stevens’ Shaky album, and started a four-week run at number one the following week. It sold enough copies in the final few weeks of 1981 to finish second to Adam & The Ants’ Kings Of The Wild Frontier in the annual rankings, and has continued to sell at an impressive rate ever since.
In 1996, it was issued in a slipcase with Greatest Hits II and in 2000 with Greatest Hits II and Greatest Hits III. As these packages contain the original albums, the decision was made, right or wrong, to share out the sales pro rata.
As Greatest Hits I, II and II together have sold 1,680,000, individual tallies for all three have been allocated an extra 560,000 sales. By the same token, Greatest Hits I and II’s combined sales of 132,000 have been split, with an extra 66,000 being added to each. Taking all this into consideration, Greatest Hits has sold a massive 5,780,000 copies. Greatest Hits II, eighth on the list, has sold 3,840,000 copies.
Abba’s Gold: Greatest Hits is another perennial whose evergreen status reached a new high last year, when it returned to the top of the album chart, some 16 years after it was first released, in the wake of the success of the Mamma Mia movie. It continues to close the gap on the top two, and has sold 4,648,000 copies. Taking fourth place is the recently disbanded Oasis. As the biggest selling act of the 1990s, each of Oasis’s first three releases make it onto the all-time Top 100 list, but their biggest album, by some distance, with sales surpassing 4,435,000, is (What’s The Story) Morning Glory.
Will sales from Stereo and Mono be now added to Sgt Pepper?