To no one's surprise, Eric Clapton's "Unplugged" rode its six-Grammy sweep to the top of this week's Billboard album chart. It had been in the top six since its chart debut on Sept. 12, and has sold more than 4 million copies.

Clapton's arrival in the No. 1 spot meant the end of a 13-week stay at the top for Whitney Houston's "Bodyguard" soundtrack, which has now sold more than 7 million copies (and another 15 million overseas). These have been very good times for Houston (who recently gave birth to a daughter): Though "I Will Always Love You" dropped off the top of the singles chart two weeks ago (replaced by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle's "A Whole New World," which was itself bumped this week by Snow's "Informer"), its 14-week reign was the longest since Billboard instituted its Hot 100 chart in 1958. (You need to go back to 1947 for a longer-running chart-topper: Francis Craig's ballad "Near You.")

"I Will Always Love You" became only the second single to sell more than 4 million copies in the United States (the other is "We Are the World") and overseas, where it's No. 1 in more countries than have signed the GATT treaty. This week Houston has two singles in the Top 10 -- the remake of Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman" is No. 5, and "I Will Always Love You," a Dolly Parton cover, is No. 7 -- with a third soundtrack song, "I Have Nothing," at No. 11 and looking to go Top 10 next week. This is the first time an artist has had simultaneous Top 10 singles since Madonna did so in 1987; the last time one act had three simultaneous Top 10 singles was the Bee Gees in early 1978, and before that, the Beatles in April 1964.

Despite the most extensive "coincidental" media blitz this side of Madonna, Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" album struggled to climb back into the Top 10 after having slipped to No. 131 the week before he began a string of highly publicized performances and appearances, including the NAACP Image Awards, the Inaugural Gala, the American Music Awards, the Super Bowl, the Grammys, the Soul Train Awards and that fascinating Oprah Winfrey interview. It was Winfrey's interview, which downsized Jackson's reputation from weird to eccentric and was reportedly seen by more than 90 million people, that pushed "Dangerous" back to No. 10; Soundscan has reported sales of 60,000 copies in the wake of the show. Jackson's Epic solo albums -- "Thriller," "Bad" and "Off the Wall" -- are also selling briskly, as is the Jackson 5's "Greatest Hits." There was less sales buzz after Jackson's Grammy appearance, where he decided to talk for nine minutes rather than perform, and the "Dangerous" album has slipped to No. 12. The question is: Will the newly arrived King of Talk appear with the old King of Talk, Larry King?

The Super Bowl halftime show, which reportedly drew the largest television audience ever, may have pushed Jackson's "Heal the World" single to its current No. 28 position: Without much airplay and with little video support, it had stalled outside the Top 30 and would have become the first Jackson single not to break that barrier since a "Wiz" single in 1979.

"Dangerous," which debuted at No. 1 on Dec. 14, 1991, has sold 5 million copies here, and reportedly another 10 million overseas. It's overseas that Jackson hysteria still reigns (spontaneously, his publicists would have you believe): In December, according to PR man Lee Solters, 800 young Romanians dressed in Jackson-style black "shrieking with joy ... gyrated down a central boulevard {in Bucharest} carrying pictures of the star, waving white chrysanthemums and chanting, 'Nobel for Michael, peace for children!' " They were pushing for a Nobel Peace Prize for Jackson's charitable efforts through his Heal the World Foundation. Of course, he could always pick up an oversized copy to stick in his home theater, next to Oscar.

Savage Victory

Jon Savage's "England's Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock & Beyond" won first prize at the 1992 Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Awards, sponsored by BMI, Rolling Stone and New York University (and named after the esteemed music critic and co-founder of Rolling Stone). Third place went to "Bill Graham: My Life Inside Rock and Out," by Graham and Robert Greenfield. Second place went to a Washington-rooted book, "From Cakewalks to Concert Halls: An Illustrated History of African American Popular Music from 1895 to 1930," published here by Elliott & Clark. It was written by William Barlow, an associate professor at Howard University's School of Communications, and Thomas L. Morgan, a freelance writer and radio show host. The book examines the critical role African Americans played in the development of American popular music before the Depression and how black music gradually entered the mainstream on its own terms and, as Barlow writes, forever changed the soundscape of American music. The often critically neglected genres covered here range from blackface minstrelsy and ragtime to blues and the big band era, with extensive sheet music illustrations and vintage photographs. Some of these photographs serve up discomforting racial stereotypes, but as the book points out, black artists were burdened with those stereotypes for all too many years, and the struggle for social dignity and human rights went hand in hand with the struggle for commercial acceptance and reward.