Queen‘s 1981 Greatest Hits album is the biggest selling album of all time in the UK, according to the official Chart Company who have published a list of the 60 largest selling long-players, to celebrate 60 years of the chart…
The best of (pictured above with the original cover) is the only album in Britain to have sold over six million copies (6.1m to date) almost a million ahead of the second placed album, ABBA‘s Gold compilation which was issued in 1992. Although Queen had an 11 year ‘head start’ on ABBA, it’s unlikely the Swedish pop group will ever catch Queen since both albums continue to sell strongly.
The first studio album in the list is, The Beatles‘ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band which is the only other record that has broken the five million barrier. In fact, perhaps surprisingly, the top ten isn’t chock-a-block with greatest hits compilations, with seven out of the top ten being ‘proper’ albums, albeit familiar mega sellers such as Pink Floyd‘s Dark Side of the Moon (no. 7), Michael Jackson‘s Thriller ‘s (no. 6) and Dire Straits‘ Brothers in Arms (no. 8).
Of the seven studio albums in the top ten only three haven’t had expanded deluxe reissues at some point: Sgt Pepper, Adele‘s 21 and Brothers in Arms. The Dire Straits album has been reissued as a 5.1 SACD but no actual ‘deluxe’ edition.
It was in the top five for many years, but Simply Red‘s Stars – celebrating its 25th anniversary this year – now sits at number 14. Also, the reason James Blunt has “no mortgage” – as he once pithily pointed out to a someone who was criticising him on twitter – is because Back to Bedlam is the 17th biggest selling album of all time in the UK.
Scanning through the top 60 does cause the eyebrows to raise occasionally, because amongst the expected albums are a few surprises. For example the Scissor Sisters‘ 2004 is the 28th biggest selling album in UK chart history. Yes it is. And Take That have three albums in the top sixty, two of which Beautiful World and Progress from the second phase of their career. Shania Twain‘s Come On Over also shifted enough units at the time to sit high up the chart at number 15.
Although you might think the chart would be skewed towards the big selling era of the 1970s and 1980s a third of the list come from albums issued between 2000 and 2010. And remarkably, two albums from the last two years are in the chart (Ed Sheeran’s X – no. 49 – and Adele’s 25 – no. 27).