Various Artists - Mercury Music Prize Compilation

Which ever way you look at it the Mercury Music Prize has become and ambiguously controversial occasion. When Ms Dynamite won last year the general consensus was that she didn't deserve the prize as the album was overtly commercial in comparison to her earlier releases. When Gomez went on stage to collect their award nobody realized they were the band as they appeared to look like a motley crew of students and Big Issue sellers. If you're a betting man than William Hill have Radiohead's "Hail To The Thief" and "A Rush Of Blood To The Head" by Coldplay odds on to win.

Amongst the well know bands who have been nominated are the Darkness, The Thrills, Athlete and the widely acclaimed MC and producer Dizzee Rascal. As usual with the Mercury a number of underground and left-field musicians are also included. Martina Topley-Bird who you may remember worked alongside Tricky on his "Maxinquaye" album. From just hearing the song "Need One" you'll soon discover that Martina is a sister who is definitely doing it for herself. Making traditional folk music exciting and innovative again is Eliza Carthy. Her contribution to the album is the fresh sounding "Limbo" which illustrates the complexity and beauty of her tremendous voice. It didn't do that other folky female Beth Orton any harm being associated with the Mercury contingent and her career has soared since. Wacky Cult band Lemon Jelly have an outsiders chance of winning. Their unique brand of the strange and blissed out world they inhabit certainly has it's admirers. The lengthy seven minutes plus "Ramblin Man" is quite typical of their "Lost Horizons" album.

This compilation album is choc-a-blok full of talented musicians and artists. The variety of musical styles is breathtaking and there is something to cater for every taste. Who will win is anybody's guess, but judging by the quality on offer there isn't a single loser amongst them.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

Post your Mercury Music Prize reviews / comments on the Message Board