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Last Updated: Friday, 3 September, 2004, 07:28 GMT 08:28 UK
Zutons get Mercury bookies' vote
The Zutons
The Zutons' album sales have increased rapidly over the summer
Indie rockers The Zutons have risen from being little-known outsiders to become one of the surprise favourites to win this year's Mercury Music Prize.

The Liverpool band are priced 11/2 with bookmaker William Hill to lift the UK's most prestigious music award next week.

They are now third favourites behind The Streets and Franz Ferdinand, having begun the race six weeks ago at 12/1.

Sales of their shortlisted album, Who Killed... The Zutons, have meanwhile leapt from 60,000 to more than 100,000.

A William Hill spokesman said the band could now be poised to overtake The Streets and Franz Ferdinand as favourites.

MERCURY ODDS
The Streets/Franz Ferdinand 5/2
The Zutons 11/2
Amy Winehouse 7/1
Snow Patrol/Keane 8/1
Joss Stone/Belle & Sebastian 12/1
Jamelia/Basement Jaxx 14/1
Ty 16/1
Robert Wyatt 25/1
Source: William Hill
"They are the biggest act backed with us and would be our biggest loser," she said. "If they were to win, we would lose four figures."

"They have been away on tour, they will be chuffed," said their spokesman.

The Zutons' Abi Harding has admitted the band were "amazed and shocked" to have reached the shortlist.

Their reputation as a live act has evidently grown over the summer with festival performances at Glastonbury and V.

Their debut album, which has been likened to fellow retro rockers The Coral and The Bees, has now been certified gold with six-figure sales.

Industry experts

The Mercury Prize honours the best album of the last year by a UK or Irish act, chosen from a wide range of musical genres.

It is voted for by a panel of music industry experts, journalists and music artists from an original choice of 180 albums.

Previous winners include Primal Scream, PJ Harvey, Roni Size, Gomez and last year's victor Dizzee Rascal.

The winner will be announced on 7 September. There will be live coverage on BBC Four, hosted by Jools Holland, and on Radio 1.

Highlights will be shown on BBC Two on 10 September. Performing will be Franz Ferdinand, Basement Jaxx, Amy Winehouse and Jamelia.




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