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‘Slave’ again for Sony

George Michael has signed a new deal with Sony, the record company he took to court for rendering him a “pop slave”.

The company declined last night to say how much the deal was worth but it was understood to include sales of his back catalogue.

It comes a decade after Michael tried to free himself from a contract with Sony in a protracted legal battle that cost him an estimated £4 million. He argued that under its contract, he had to produce eight albums, but that the company could reject any material it did not like.

Although he lost the case, he orchestrated an expensive buy-out financed by a two-album deal with Virgin.

Rob Stringer, Sony Music UK’s chairman and chief executive, said the company was delighted to be “working again with one of the greatest recording artists this country has ever produced”.

He added: “In a career spanning more than 20 years, George has been responsible for nearly 75 million record sales.”

Michael, 40, is currently recording Patience, his first album of original material since the 1996 album Older. It will be released next year.

Sony will be hoping that his future work will be more successful that his recent records. His political single Shoot The Dog was criticised and the track limped into the charts at number 12 a year ago, while his single Freeek! climbed to only number seven.

Michael enjoyed a successful solo career before achieving notoriety in 1998 after admitting lewd conduct in a Beverly Hills park lavatory. Sales of his greatest hits album doubled after he spoke frankly about the incident in an interview with Michael Parkinson.

Neil McCormick, The Daily Telegraph’s rock critic, said: “On the surface it looks absurd, but it’s not so unusual for artists to go back to companies. Bob Dylan left CBS in about 1970 and then went back to them on better terms.

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