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Wednesday, 16 September, 1998, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Gomez go for gold at Mercury
the verve
The Verve: Displaced as favourites by Gomez
Upcoming group Gomez have toppled The Verve as favourites to win this year's Mercury Music Prize, which is awarded in London on Wednesday night.

The five-piece, who started while at university in Sheffield last year, have wowed critics with their album Bring It On, half of which was recorded on low-tech four-track recording equipment.

Now the group's blue-rock sound has made them favourites at 2-1 with bookmakers William Hill to collect the prize at the Shepherds Bush Empire.

gomez cover
Bring on the awards: Gomez's album has been lauded by the critics
William Hill spokesman Graham Sharp said: "We rated Gomez at 9-1 initially as they were an up-and-coming band who weren't that well known.

"But it is fair to say of all the bets we have received, half of them have been for Gomez. People with a pretty good knowledge of the music industry have been backing them."

Established favourites The Verve remain second favourites at 9-2 with their Urban Hymns album.

A diverse range of music will be honoured at the awards ceremony, with Pulp, folk fiddle player Eliza Carthy, Asian Dub Foundation, drum'n'bass outfit 4 Hero and jazz maestro John Surman joining Gomez to perform.

Honouring all styles

Now in its seventh year, the Mercury prize seeks to honour the best in new music of all styles from Britain and Ireland.

Previous winners include Primal Scream, Suede, M People, Portishead and last year's winners, Roni Size and Reprazent.

This year's other contenders include Robbie Williams, for his Life Thru A Lens album. It marks another milestone in his career since he left Take That in 1995, and is praised for being "a great entertainer" by the judging panel.

Pulp are hoping for the first ever Mercury Music Prize double, after winning in 1996 with Different Class. Their downbeat This Is Hardcore album is their third nomination at the awards.

Welsh outfit Catatonia's International Velvet turned them from cult favourites to mainstream pop stars, and is called a "quirky, adventurous set of songs" by the panel.

Bristol trip-hop heroes Massive Attack's "deep, powerful, brooding, disturbing and beautiful" album Mezzanine is nominated, as are Bath dance duo Propellerheads' Decksanddrumsandrockandroll and double act 4 Hero's Two Pages, praised for its mix of jazz and drum 'n' bass.

jarvis cocker
Jarvis Cocker: In line for second Mercury Prize
Asian Dub Foundation's mixture of politics, rap and bass beats gets them nominated for Rafi's Revenge, called "passionate, explosive and thrilling" by the judges, while Cornershop's When I was Born For The 7th Time also gets a nod for its "unexpected range of sounds from scratchy dub to country".

Outside of pop, rock, and dance, folk musician Eliza Carthy is nominated for Red Rice. Her mother, Norma Waterson, was shortlisted for the 1996 prize.

Jazz musician John Surman is recognised for Proverbs And Songs, recorded in Salisbury Cathedral and featuring the city's 75-strong Festival Choir. "A dramatic meeting of the secular and sacred," is the verdict of the judging panel.

The ceremony will be shown live on BBC Two from 2315 BST and broadcast on BBC Radio 1 from 2230 BST.

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