Gomez a winner made in a garage

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THE MERCURY Music prize for best British album was awarded last night to Gomez, a young five-piece band, exactly a year to the day since they signed their first record contract.

Their debut album, Bring It On, was released to acclaim from critics who praised the ability of a young band from Lancashire and Derbyshire to play the blues as though they were from the Deep South.

They were presented the award at London's Shepherd Bush Empire by last year's winner, Roni Size, also a surprise at the time. In a year they have gone from recording at home to receiving one of the music industry's top awards.

Drummer Olly Peacock told the audience "the album was recorded in my dad's garage."

From the 12-album shortlist, William Hill made Verve favourites at 5- 2. Gomez were 2-1, while the outsiders were the young folk singer Eliza Carthy and jazz musician John Surman, on odds of 33-1. This was the seventh year of the Mercury prize, pop music's equivalent of the Booker and Turner prizes.

Previous winners have ranged from already popular acts like Pulp in 1996 to less well-known groups such as Portishead in 1995. Unlike other pop- music awards such as the Brits, the Mercury prize has only one category, of best album, agreed by a panel of the music industry's great and good, chaired by Simon Frith, professor of English at Strathclyde University. Aside from the pounds 20,000 prize, the award will sustain already successful album sales. Mat Snow, the editor of Mojo magazine, said: "Bring It On" was one of my personal choices. The thing about Gomez was that they did nothing to court any existing music market."

The shortlist

This Is Hardcore - Pulp

When I Was Born For The 7th Time - Corner

Proverbs And Songs - John Surman

Rafi's Revenge - Asian Dub Foundation

Bring It On - Gomez

Life Thru A Lens - Robbie Williams

Decksandrumsandrockandroll - Propellerheads

International Velvet - Catatonia

Urban Hymns - The Verve

Two Pages - 4 Hero

Red Rice - Eliza Carthy

Mezzazine - Massive Attack