Bruce Springsteen grabbed the top of the U.S. pop charts Wednesday with the debut of his somber, Sept. 11-influenced album, “The Rising,” the first all-new recording with his E Street Band since 1984.
The critically hailed LP sold about 525,000 copies in its first week in stores, Springsteen’s best album debut in at least a decade, his publicists said as the veteran rocker and his band prepared to launch a world tour at the Continental Airlines Arena in his native New Jersey.
Springsteen’s publicity firm, Shore Fire Media, said “The Rising,” released July 30, also was expected to open at No. 1 in 10 other countries, including Canada, Britain, Germany, Spain and the four Nordic nations.
The album includes the tracks “Into the Fire,” which Springsteen wrote after the suicide hijackings that killed more than 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, and “My City of Ruins,” an earlier song about down-on-its-luck Asbury Park, New Jersey, that the musician dedicated to New York after Sept. 11.
Time magazine hailed the LP as “the first significant piece of pop art to respond to the events of that day.”
The record has received generally enthusiastic reviews and some critics already consider “The Rising” an early favorite for an “Album of the Year” prize when the Grammys are handed out in February.
“The Rising” supplanted a very different 9/11-inspired album at the top of the charts, knocking country singer Toby Keith’s “Unleashed” to No. 6 in its second week of release, according to SoundScan. Keith’s album features the controversial song “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American),” celebrating the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan.
Entering the charts at No. 2 for the week ended Aug. 4 was the latest release from alternative metal group Linkin Park, “Reanimation,” with sales of 270,000 copies.
Hip-hop star Nelly held onto the No. 3 spot with his sophomore album “Nellyville,” selling another 244,000 copies to raise his six-week tally to 2.3 million units.
Rounding out the top five were the various-artists compilation “Now 10” at No. 4, slipping two spots in its second week of release, and rapper Eminem’s third major-label LP, “The Eminem Show,” remaining at No. 5 in its 11th week.
Springsteen and the E Street Band, including saxophonist Clarence Clemons, guitarist Steve Van Zandt and drummer Max Weinberg, were due to open their latest arena tour in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Wednesday night.
The concert series marks their first road trip together since a reunion tour that ended at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 2000. The final performance of that tour was used for a CD, DVD and HBO special, all titled, “Live in New York City.”
While some E Streeters played on Springsteen’s 1987 album, “Tunnel of Love,” the last release to feature the whole band was 1984’s multiplatinum “Born in the U.S.A.”