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Limp Bizkit's 'Starfish' Proves to Be a Best Buy

But controversy builds over retailer dropping the price of group's hot-selling album.


Limp Bizkit--one of the acts frequently cited in the debate over pop music content thathas stretched from the nation's living rooms to Capitol Hill--appears to be stronger than ever.

The irreverent rap-rock group's new album, "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water," got off to such a blistering sales start Tuesday in its first day in stores that one major retailer projects the album will sell about 1.3 million copies this week.

That would be the third-highest opening week total since SoundScan began monitoring U.S. record sales in 1991. The only bigger first-week sellers: the 2.4 million registered in March by 'N Sync's "No Strings Attached" and the 1.7 million sold in May by Eminem's "The Marshall Mathers LP."

Limp Bizkit's last album, "Significant Other," sold approximately 640,000 during its first week in stores in the summer of 1999. That album's sales now total more than 6.3 million, according to SoundScan.

Though Bizkit has built a strong fan base through its albums and touring, it may be best known for the controversy surrounding its performance at the violence-plagued Woodstock '99 festival.

Bizkit frontman Fred Durst reportedly told fans "there are no rules," as some in the crowd attacked towers and scaffolding near the stage.

Controversial rapper Eminem and Limp Bizkit are tied to Interscope Records and are sharing the bill in what will surely be the most talked-about tour of the fall.

The "Anger Management Tour" starts today at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., and will be at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim on Nov. 21.

Anger management techniques may be useful in the retail world after Best Buy--the national discount chain that sells everything from CDs and videos to TVs, vacuum cleaners and major household appliances--dropped a bombshell on Sunday by advertising the Limp Bizkit album for $9.99, nearly $2 below the wholesale cost.

"This hurts everybody," said Bob Feterl, Southwest territorial director for Tower Records. "This hurts the music business, not just their competitors. . . . It makes everybody else look like we're gouging consumers when we don't have washing machines to offset losses on CDs."

Best Buy's strategy is being watched closely--and hotly debated--because it's the first time a major retailer has deeply discounted the advertised price on a high-profile album since the industry reached a settlement last May with the Federal Trade Commission in a price-fixing lawsuit.

As part of that settlement, record companies agreed to drop their long-standing insistence on a "minimum advertised price," or MAP, on new CDs. In return for sticking to the MAP, retailers had received millions of dollars in advertising subsidies from record labels.

Best Buy representatives were not available for comment.

"Chocolate Starfish" will take over the No. 1 spot on the nation's album chart from rapper Ja Rule, whose "Rule 3:36" entered the chart Wednesday at No. 1 after selling an estimated 275,000 last week, according to SoundScan figures.

The next-highest debuts on the new chart were registered by the Wallflowers' "Breach," Orgy's "Vapor Transmission" and E-40's "Loyalty & Betrayal," which finished No. 13, No. 16 and No. 18, respectively. Radiohead's "Kid A" fell from No. 1 to No. 10 on the new chart. Christina Aguilera's "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)" tops the nation's singles chart.

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