July 22, 2004...For the first time since he launched his music career in 1970, Jimmy Buffett has reached number one on Billboard's U.S. pop albums chart. The album is called "License to Chill," and mixes his traditional laid-back Key West beach bum persona with some very popular country hits. Most notably, his remake of Hank Williams' "Hey Good Lookin" most definitely helped move the album to number one, as it has been a top 10 hit on Billboard's Top Country Singles & Tracks chart. On this album, he also had help from such country heavyweights as Toby Keith, George Strait and Alan Jackson, USA TODAY notes.
Buffett's last seven albums have premiered in the top 10, but this is his first chart-topper. Buffett achieved pop stardom in 1977 with ith the hit song "Margaritaville." It was featured on the album "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes." There was some question whether Buffett could reach beyond his base audience of middle-aged party animals, known as Parrotheads. They routinely gather online at
his official site, Margaritaville.com (which includes streaming radio), and other fan-created sites. But "License to Chill" reaches a new audience -- it has already sold 238,600 copies in its first week of release, ending July 18, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The album has received mixed reviews. Some critics say Buffett has long betrayed his image as a
laid-back beach bum in favor of making buckets of money in slick uncreative productions. The new album contains only "two genuinely moving duets, one with Martina McBride ("Trip Around the Sun") and the
other with Nanci Griffith ("Someone I Used to Love")," writes Sean Daly in
The Washington Post. "Paired with dynamite singers, Buffett gives the kind of sweet,
nuanced delivery that made 'Come Monday' a keeper. He also brings giddy boardwalk energy to the Grateful Dead's 'Scarlet Begonias.' Of course, Buffett would love to get Deadheads mingling with Parrotheads. Those 'Volcano' bongs would sell like hot cakes."