The star-studded Hillsborough charity single, featuring Edge Hill University academic Carl Hunter, remains the odds-on favourite to be crowned this year’s Christmas number one.

The Justice Collective release their version of The Hollies 1969 hit, He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother on 17th December.

Carl, bass player for Liverpool band The Farm, and who teaches film and television studies at the University, said: “So on we go… these are the opening lines to the second verse of He Ain’t Heavy. These words seem to resonate through our city, through the families and through the fans that were at Hillsborough. From the Justice Tonight Band through to this single, we as a group of musicians used what skills we have to keep a message alive but the single isn’t about us, it’s about them and I hope this beautiful re recording of the Hollies track captures this.

“To all the people, musicians, families and campaigning groups that kept fighting for 23 years you have our greatest respect.”

The band, along with many others have been involved in the concept for He Ain’t Heavy since the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report in September and many Liverpool artists have lent their support.

Carl said: “It’s been fantastic to watch solidarity between musicians on such a huge project. It has gathered momentum and we have had the backing of so many big names, including Sir Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams, John McClure and Mick Jones, just to name a few. Our Guitarist Keith Mullin had been working with the producer Guy Chambers at LIPA. Guy was interested in the Justice Tonight band and offered to lend his support, this discussion eventually led to the rerecording of the Hollies track with Guy as producer but there are so many others involved in bringing this dream into reality, too many to mention.”

“The recording single is all about a celebration of music with a message – Justice.”

Justice Tonight was set up as a musical collaboration between The Farm, Pete Wylie and Mick Jones to raise awareness of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, to fight for the truth for the 96 victims who lost their lives at the football match in 1989. It gathered support and saw them share the stage and songs with The Stone Roses, Primal Scream, The Manic Street Preachers, Richard Hawley and many more.

The new track will raise money to cover the legal costs of the families of the Liverpool supporters killed in the disaster.

Pre-order the single by ordering it from itunes or Amazon, or by texting the word justice to 80010 from a mobile phone.