UMG's Polydor Records and Van Morrison have struck a new deal which has enabled the label to mine the veteran Northern Irish singer/songwriter's catalog for a new greatest hits release.

Through the new relationship, which Polydor declares as "one of the music industry's most important deals of the year," a hits set "Still On Top" will land Oct. 22 in the U.K., and Nov. 6 in the U.S.

The album, which celebrates works from Morrison's 40 million record-selling, five-decade-long recording career, is to be one of Polydor's biggest releases for Christmas, the label claims. A new studio album is due in early 2008 on Morrison's label Exile Music, which has a licensing arrangement with UMG.

"Van Morrison is one of the greatest artists of all time," comments Universal Music Operations president David Joseph in a statement. "We look forward to working with his past, present and most importantly his future hits."

Morrison returned to the UMG fold in 2005 with "Magic Time," the first album following the music major's license pact with Exile. Prior that that, he had recorded briefly with EMI's Blue Note label.

Morrison's first hits came more than 40 years ago when his band Them scored two U.K. top-10 singles on UMG's Decca in 1965, "Baby Please Don't Go" (backed with the classic anthem "Gloria") and "Here Comes the Night." He first cracked the U.K. singles chart as a solo artist in 1979 with "Bright Side of the Road," released on UMG's Mercury label.

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