Music

Listen to Sleaford Mods cover Pet Shop Boys classic West End Girls to raise money for Shelter

Sleaford Mods' have produced a hard-edged cover of Pet Shop Boys' classic West End Girls. Proceeds from the single will go to fight homelessness.

Sleaford Mods have released West End Girls by Pet Shop Boys for homelessness charity Shelter

Sleaford Mods have released West End Girls by Pet Shop Boys for homelessness charity Shelter. Photo: Ewen Spencer

With the UK on the cliff edge of a mass homelessness crisis, Nottingham activist post-punks Sleaford Mods have harnessed the Pet Shop Boys’ great depiction of inner-city life and the class divide, West End Girls, to raise money for Shelter.

The song is available to stream from today, with a physical release to follow. Fans will be able to buy the single on the UK band’s current tour and in record shops from 15 December. 

Proceeds from the new version of West End Girls will go to help people facing homelessness. It’s an issue Sleaford Mods have long campaigned on – showing strong ongoing support for both Shelter and Big Issue.

The pair – singer Jason Williamson and musician Andrew Fearn – recently invited Big Issue to accompany them at their biggest ever show, supporting Blur in Wembley Stadium, and previously sold a limited edition t-shirt in collaboration with political artist Cold War Steve to raise money for Shelter.

“We wanted to do something for Shelter again in the run up to Christmas,” said Williamson. “Their work all year round is so important and – unfortunately, considering the state of the country – more needed than ever.”

Sleaford Mods will also be collecting for the charity at their current run of UK tour dates, which kicks off in Birmingham on 22 November. “We are pleased proceeds from the single can go to them, and if you are coming to a show and can afford to make a donation, then Andrew and I really appreciate it too.”

Shelter expressed their gratitude for the band’s support. “It’s amazing that Sleaford Mods have chosen to support Shelter again this year with the release of their cover of West End Girls,” said Sarah Stickings, the charity’s senior community fundraising area manager.

“We’re also grateful that they’ll be collecting donations to Shelter at their UK tour dates. The housing emergency means that more than 131,000 children will be homeless over Christmas. We’re outraged that this is still a reality in England and so thankful for the support from Sleaford Mods and their fanbase as we continue our fight for home this winter.” 

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West End Girls is one of the most influential and recognisable songs of the ’80s. In 2005, it was awarded Song of the Decade by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters. A critic’s poll in 2020 by The Guardian declared it the greatest UK number one single.

The Pet Shop Boys have always been an important influence for Sleaford Mods. The echoes of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe’s partnership are evident in Williamson and Fearn’s combination of sophisticated electronics and distinctive vocals.

West End Girls is a song that’s very close to my heart, my coming-of-age track in so many ways,” said Fearn. 

The band were delighted when they got the seal of approval from the Pet Shops Boys to go ahead with their hard-edged cover. Not only did Tennant and Lowe give them the thumbs up, they also contributed a remix for the 12” version of the single.

“I’ve been listening to the Pet Shop Boys albums Please and Actually a lot, the music still fits this landscape so well,” added Williamson. “When Andrew suggested we cover West End Girls, it was important to honour the track’s brilliance. So when Neil and Chris gave the track their blessing, our tiny minds were blown, and when we received their remix… it was almost too much. It was brilliant!”

For their part Pet Shop Boys were suitably impressed with the 2023 take on their classic. “Sleaford Mods have brought East End boys back to the West End streets for a great cause and we love their new version,” they said.

Sleaford Mods’ West End Girls cover will be available on a limited edition, white-label 7” via the merch stand on the duo’s upcoming UK dates; and as a 12” edition featuring remixes from the Pet Shop Boys, HiFi Sean and Extnnddntwrk. This can be pre-ordered now ahead of the physical release on 15 December. 

Final tickets for Sleaford Mods’ shows are available here. Details of Shelter’s work can be found here.

Join The Big Issue’s campaign to Stop Mass Homelessness.

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