As you may know, establishing a list of all-time best selling albums is a very difficult target. I’m fairly satisfied with the results of all the work that has been done over the last 12 months to compile such a ranking for sales in France. It doesn’t mean I’m 100% certain of all figures though.
Most notably, there is a few albums that I’m still struggling to put a figure on. There is two kind of such cases. First you have albums that sold a lot on a period of poorly covered sales and which never got their certification updated after the multi-platinum introduction in 1988. The main such case is Flashdance Soundtrack, the 1983 holiday season #1 album. I’m still looking forward for more information on that record. Then you have albums for which figures are widely reported but look fanciful more than anything. In that category enter various early 70s albums.
Olympia by Alan Stivell, La Maladie D’Amour by Michel Sardou, Ferrat Chante Aragon by Jean Ferrat, Forever And Ever by Demis Roussos, Le Métèque by Georges Moustaki and Je Suis Malade by Serge Lama are all 1970-1973 hugely popular records tagged as million sellers more often than not. None of them seems to be a legitimate million seller though. The SNEP first introduced the Gold Award with 1973/1974 campaign, certifying albums for 100,000 sales and singles for 500,000 units. Those levels made sense as the album market was weaker.
What happened is that all unreliable in-house Gold Awards from the first half of the 70s went on to be communicated as representing half a million units, while Platinum was incorrectly reputed for a million sales. This was true for singles, but the general public and even various Medias weren’t aware about the different album criteria, a trick labels extensively used.
Among all those 70-73 albums, one performed better than the others still. No, I’m not speaking about Pink Floyd cult record Dark Side Of The Moon, nor about the Beatles Red and Blue compilations. The top performer from that period was 1968 strikes generation icon Maxime Le Forestier. His debut self-titled record, often named Mon Frère or San Francisco as per its two biggest hits, went on to become some kind of local Bridge Over Troubled Water, the legendary Simon & Garfunkel album.