This is trickier than I thought. I've no idea about the sales figures for these guys, but I've seen them all placed above Low in popular (i.e. 'voted for') charts.
Trout Mask Replica
Ogden's Nut Gone Flake
Actually, I suspect that looking at popularity polls for this kind of answer is misleading because, needless to say, there were many votes 'squandered' on numerous Bowie albums above these that could otherwise have been spent on Low. Anyway, the three I've mentioned sold fairly respectably. Kid A is included on the grounds that the last millennium or century or whatever didn't start until 2001. . . Erm. . . How many units did We're Only in it for the Money shift?
In reply to:
Although an initial audience [for Low] was guaranteed. . .
What was its sticking power like? An initial chart position doesn't guarantee that it was enjoyed even by the majority of its buyers (i.e. ensuring its popularity). I think I read somewhere that a fair portion of Metal Machine Music (20,000?) was shifted in pre-release orders, though I guess not so many people would have bought it had they known.
In reply to:
In 1940, Leopold Stokowski and Walt Disney selected The Rite of Spring for inclusion in the animated feature, Fantasia thus securing its place in popular music
Hmm, I've often wondered about this. Mr Stravinsky didn't like the Disneyfied version (and neither do I particularly) but I wonder how much of The Rite of Spring's popularity rests on a 'false' version?
Now as for the Low vs. Rite of Spring comparison . . . I think the critical reception, although hostile to both, might have been different. Much of what happens in Low can be traced back to earlier, less accessible works by Neu, Kraftwerk, Eno and the like, while it appears that The Rite of Spring was with fewer precedents and is overall considerably more dissonant than Low. For example, Lester Bangs labelled Low as an Eno rip-off, though itís hard to make the same charge against Stravinsky (at least with my sketchy knowledge of classical 20th century compositions).
I declare Metal Machine Music the winner!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread