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GREAT GUNS: Everybody called it a marketing...

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GREAT GUNS: Everybody called it a marketing coup when Guns N’ Roses became the first act in rock history to release two new studio albums at the same time and they entered the sales chart at No. 1 and 2, selling more than 1.4 million copies in one week.

But the albums haven’t maintained that pace.

In the most recent Billboard chart, “Use Your Illusion II” was No. 7 and “Use Your Illusion I” was No. 11. In fact, they weren’t even the hottest rock albums in the country. Upstart Nirvana’s “Nevermind” was No. 6 on the chart.

So was it a good idea to put out the two albums simultaneously?

Would Guns N’ Roses be higher on the chart now if it had only released one album during this recession-dampened market so that fans and marketing campaigns could be focused on a single work?

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The verdict from the industry: Everybody seems happy.

Lew Garrett, vice president of purchasing for the Midwestern Camelot chain, terms the dual- album release an resounding success. “We’ve bought and sold in excess of 300,000 of the albums combined, and the albums have only been out a short time, which means it’s still in its infancy.”

“There’s been little or no confusion,” says Chuck Lee, director of music buying for the 300-store Wherehouse chain. “It’s been almost like two separate pieces of product, so it’s worked out well.

“When they first came out, kids were buying both. Now it’s slowed down a bit and people are buying the one with their favorite song or the one with the new video or whatever. . . . But if they’d only released one record, I don’t think we’d have sold as many as we have with two units.”

Eddie Gilreath, Geffen vice president of sales, says that the company has shipped more than 3 million copies of each of the two albums (“Illusion II” is about 150,000 copies ahead). And, he adds, “sales are picking up.”

The single and video release last week of “Live and Let Die” from “Illusion I” is expected to boost that album into the lead. And with Geffen planning to work perhaps six more singles from the albums, retailers are looking at the pair to be among their top sellers for at least a year to come.

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