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Mercury winners: where are they now?

Updated on 18 July 2007

By Channel 4 News

Despite the recent success of the Arctic Monkeys, winning the Mercury Prize isn't always a dead-cert ticket to pop superstardom.

The Mercury Music Prize has been selecting 12 albums of the year by British or Irish artists since 1992.

In the prize's inaugural year Primal Scream's Screamadelica took the lead. Last year the Arctic Monkeys won - and they're still riding the crest of fame, knocking the mud-soaked dead at Glastonbury in June and being nominated for the prize yet again this year.

But the fates of Mercury Prize winners are varied. The likes of Anthony and the Johnsons, who won in 2005, have not stayed firmly in the public eye. But then they probably weren't that much in the eye to start with.

And while Franz Ferdinand, who won in 2004, are not riding as high as they were, fellow nominees Amy Winehouse and Snow Patrol seem to be getting bigger and bigger by the day - Winehouse being up for a second nomination this year.

But to see which winners really disappeared, you need to go a little bit further back. Here are five bands for which all the Mercury Prize coverage in the Kingdom could not keep them in the public eye.

1. Gomez, 1998

Formed just two years before they won the prize - for their debut album 'Bring It On' - the five-piece band had surprised the record industry and the public with their distinctive sound.

While their second album was well received, their third and fourth did not create the same kind of bubble, and they were subsequently dropped by their record label Virgin.

They have since signed to a new label and have been touring the states and recording new material, but the heady days of the late nineties have, for now, disappeared from view.

2. Roni Size Reprazent, 1997

Roni Size's group Reprazent won in a year dominated by dance music - beating better-known acts like the Chemical Brothers, Primal Scream and the Prodigy.

The drum and bass album New Forms hit the top forty - a rarity for a drum and bass act. But although Size and his collective continue to make music, it's without the splash that came with New Forms.

3. Portishead, 1995

The year Portishead won was the year of Bristol music - with fellow nominees Tricky and PJ Harvey hailing from the West Country. The band's debut album took the indie scene by storm and hailed the coming of 'trip-hop'.

But with just two studio albums under their belt, they slipped from view. In February 2005, seven years after their last performance, Portishead popped up for the Tsunami Benefit Concert in Bristol.

At the end of last year producer/musician Geoff Barrow suggested a third album was in the making. And this December the band will curate the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Minehead, England.

4. M People, 1994

1994 was an eclectic year for the prize - from The Prodigy to Take That via Pulp and and M People - it was pretty hard to tell who was going to romp home with the prize.

M People's album Elegant Slumming, released the year before, won out over the competition, and became a staple of the pop scene for quite some time.

The band 'took a break' in the late nineties, but with the release of a greatest hits offering in 2005 they toured again - although they aren't recording any new material and Heather Small continues to pursue a solo career.

5. Suede, 1993

Suede won with their eponymous debut album. But the hysteria around the band didn't last for long, and they never managed to 'break in' to America.

Whilst working on their second album, tensions grew within the band - culminating in the departure of guitarist Bernard Butler in the middle of recording Dog Man Star.

And although third album Coming up (1996) brought them big commercial success, by their fifth album they were out of steam and out of favour with both the music press and the public. They performed their last concert at London Astoria in 2003.

After the split, singer Brett Anderson and guitarist Butler got together again to form The Tears which gained moderate critical and commercial recognition, and Anderson also released a solo album. Before that, Butler played with a wide range of famous bands and musicians and formed McAlmont and Butler with soul singer David McAlmont.

But none of their ventures were ever quite in the same league as Suede's early days.

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