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POP MUSIC | POP EYE

August 04, 1996|Dave Jennings, from London

MERCURY GLORY: Oasis' "What's the Story (Morning Glory)?" and Pulp's "Different Class" are being picked by British oddsmakers as the early favorites to win this year's Mercury Music Prize, which in its fifth year has become among the most coveted and prestigious honors in the country's music industry. The award goes to the album deemed by a panel of music executives, producers and journalists the best among all released by British and Irish artists between July 31, 1995 and July 29, 1996.

Leading bookmaker firm William Hill has set Oasis' album as the 2-1 odds leader, with Pulp right behind at 3-1, followed by the all-star album "Help," featuring songs recorded all in one day and released just five days later to benefit the War Child charity. The other artists on the short list of finalists are the bands Manic Street Preachers and Black Grape, dance-music group Underworld, rookie singer Mark Morrison, jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine, classical composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and folk singer Norma Waterson.

The winner will be announced Sept. 10.

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