France best selling albums ever:
Mon Frère by Maxime Le Forestier (1972)

Wait, a lot of chart success, but what about sales? The first reliable information we have is that the French star sold over 1 million units of his four albums by mid-1975. More details about how multi-LPs boxes were counted would be appreciated, but this is still a good gauge. The live set wasn’t too big while the fourth album was released a few months only before the article, selling roughly 250,000 units combined. This leaves out 750,000 plus copies for the first two albums. In terms of weighted performance, the debut effort outdid the sophomore by over 70%, which would suggest a 475,000 to 275,000 sales split. Both albums were certified Platinum for 400,000 units when the award was introduced in 1980. With such catalog sales for the second set – 125,000 copies – in spite of the first being by far the biggest one, anything under 725,000 units by then would be way too conservative, a figure closer to 800,000 copies sold by 1980 is more realistic.

The 80s was a very difficult period for the artist who went on from being Top 10 with all his 70s records to completely fail to make charts with his four 1980-1986 albums. The heavy recurrent airplay of debut album singles was undoubtedly serving its catalog sales though, even more considering until the release of 1986 compilation Master Series it had no competition except the few live packages. The fact that Maxime Le Forestier Master Series belongs to the best sellers out of all massively popular artists covered by it, almost only on the back of his debut album singles, truly highlights its appeal. Estimated on 910,000 units by 1986, it slowed down naturally afterwards. The singer recovered a lot in fame from 1988 thanks to Né Quelque Part hit, so one can expect great figures thanks to CD replacement factor from early 90s for the 1972 album. It hasn’t happen though as 1989 live CD Bataclan 89 took over most of that expected value, a record containing all Mon Frère hits.

Charting #33 in the Catalog Chart in 2002 for its 30th Anniversary, a 40th anniversary edition then sent the record back on charts again in 2011, peaking at #63 of the main chart. One more evidence of that stand-out performance from this record, Mon Frère is continuously the singer highest charted record at Amazon.fr, ahead of his compilations. It is charted inside the Top 1,000 as I’m writing this article. On Spotify, his top 3 songs are all from this album with San Francisco amassing an impressive 2 million plays. I must recall Spotify is fair from being the main streaming platform in France where Deezer dominates.

At times reported as a 1,5 million seller, I’m not buying that. Nevertheless, available information tends to back up the claimed million sales as shown on estimated sales by time frames displayed below.

  • 1972-1974: 460,000
  • 1975-1979: 320,000
  • 1980-1986: 130,000
  • 1987-2001: 90,000
  • 2002-2016: 65,000

Net shipment as of the end of 2016 is estimated at 1,065,000 copies.

As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!

Sources: SNEP, CIDD, Platine, IFOP, GFK, Billboard.

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