Gary Susman
August 31, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The title of Tim McGraw’s new album is ”Live Like You Were Dying,” and that’s what his fans did, buying copies of the disc like there was no tomorrow. They snapped up 766,000 of them, according to SoundScan, sending ”Live” to No. 1 on the Billboard chart upon its release and marking one of the five strongest weeks on record for a country album’s debut.

McGraw outsold several other noteworthy debuts this week. R. Kelly’s double set ”Happy People/U Saved Me” entered the chart at No. 2, with sales of 403,000. G-Unit rapper Young Buck followed in the footsteps of bandmates 50 Cent and Lloyd Banks with a strong debut — his ”Straight Outta Ca$hville,” which moved 261,000 units, took third place. Bad Boy rapper Mase marked his return from retirement by selling 188,000 copies of ”Welcome Back,” good for a No. 4 opening.

Last week’s top three records dropped four spots apiece, with ”Now That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 16” landing at No. 5, Ashlee Simpson’s ”Autobiography” slipping to No. 6, and Prince’s ”Musicology” winding up in seventh place. Down two notches to No. 8 was Maroon 5’s ”Songs About Jane.” Usher’s ”Confessions” dipped four places to No. 9, while Big & Rich’s ”Horse of a Different Color” held in 10th place.

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