Radiohead's "In Rainbows" is on track to make a No. 1 start on the first Official U.K. Albums chart of 2008.
The XL Recordings set is likely to sell about 50,000 copies by the end of what is typically a slow week in the year, according to HMV, Britain's biggest music and entertainment retailer.
London-based indie XL released the critically lauded album on New Year's Eve in the word outside the United States and Japan, where the set is handled by ATO Records and Hostess Entertainment, respectively. "In Rainbows" also just went live at the iTunes Music Store, in 256 kbps bit rate.
Expected to be trailing "In Rainbows" on the chart, to be published this Sunday, are Take That's "Beautiful World," followed by Leona Lewis' "Spirit," Mika's "Life in Cartoon Motion" and Michael Buble's "Call Me Irresponsible."
A No. 1 berth would be a post-Christmas present for XL, which took something of a measured risk by signing up for a release that had already been in the public domain. "In Rainbows" was first made available as a "name your own price" download in October on Radiohead's Web site.
On the Official U.K. Singles Chart, Leon Jackson, winner of the "X Factor" TV talent show, is expected to retain the top position with his cover of the Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey track, "When You Believe (Syco)," which was the U.K. Christmas No. 1 single.