Originally created 06/02/06

Dixie Chicks fly to No. 1 in first full week of album sales



NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Despite a cool reception from country radio, the Dixie Chicks returned to No. 1 on the pop and country charts with their first album since publicly criticizing the president three years ago.

The album "Taking the Long Way" took the top spot on country albums chart and the Billboard 200 overall chart - which are based on sales rather than radio airplay - with 526,000 units sold in its first full week.

For the year, the Chicks' first-week showing is behind only Rascal Flatts' "Me and My Gang" (722,000 units), according to Wade Jessen, director of Billboard's country charts.

The new album hit stores May 23, and its first-week sales are the trio's best since "Home" sold 780,000 units in its first week of release in September 2000.

First-week sales on "Taking the Long Way" were better than Toby Keith's "White Trash With Money" (330,000) and Tim McGraw's "Greatest Hits Vol. 2: Reflected" (242,000).

Country radio programmers have been slow to embrace the group since lead singer Natalie Maines told a London audience in 2003 on the eve of the war in Iraq that the group was ashamed President Bush was from their home state of Texas.

Back in the U.S., their music was boycotted and the Chicks said they received death threats, leading them to install metal detectors at their shows.