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Classic FM Drive with John Brunning 5pm - 7pm
The guitarist gives Christmas classics an inventive new spin, and gives us the perfect fireside companion in the process.
You can't have a merry little Christmas without this classic, originally made famous by the great Judy Garland and then again by Frank Sinatra. Craig Ogden's version is beautifully restrained, with solo guitar and gorgeous voicing of the melodies throughout. Try to stop yourself from singing along…
This might be one of the more downbeat Christmas classics in popular culture, but Ogden turns it into a warming, fireside treat with a stately tempo and another impeccably picked-out melody.
So many of the tracks on this album come from a choral tradition and, therefore, usually are performed by dozens of people at any one time. Craig Ogden's strength, particularly in the famous chorus here, is to make just his guitar sound as big and as varied as the choirs that usually perform these works.
Thanks to its use in the cartoon version of The Snowman, Walking In The Air is now a Christmas essential. Here, under Ogden's fingers, it's even more delicate and stirring than normal, thanks to a superb cello line.
It's fair to say that Craig Ogden knows his way around the fretboard, but with much of the material on this record the melodies are so simple and well-known that it actually requires great skill to turn them into something fresh, yet familiar. This is a perfect example.
Stripped back to just Ogden's guitar, this arrangement is delightfully restrained and simple, perfect for the night before Christmas…
Another favourite carol that, in its original choral setting, is quite stately and reserved. Ogden gives it a fantastic new spin, though, turning it into a perfect festive treat.
Traditionally, the first verse of this carol is sung by a boy soprano, but Ogden's inventive take on it transforms it into a busy and florid series of guitar arpeggios that never loses sight of the melody.
Ogden's versatility comes to the fore here on this jazz-inflected number. He has real fun with the tempo, by turns nimble and achingly delayed, but always with that oh-so-hummable tune at the front.
Made famous in its original form by Kirsty Macoll and The Pogues' Shane MacGowan (pictured) back in the 80s, Craig Ogden is surprisingly faithful to it in his version, which skips along in merry fashion (without the kitchen sink drama of the lyrics, obviously).
Essential for the build-up to Christmas - can you really imagine yourself decorating the tree, hanging up your stocking and pre-heating the oven for mince pies without this on in the background? No. No you cannot.
Another hymn that has become inseparable from all things Christmassy, Ogden manages to show just how much you can change your impression of even the most established of classics with a little bit of imagination.
This most innocent and plaintive of Christmas tunes retains its simple charms in Ogden's reading, which adds a little bit of string quartet colour to the proceedings, alongside his delicate guitar skills.
The main melody is transferred over to the violin for this number, which sees Ogden's guitar beautifully propping up the whole piece.
Craig's guitar takes centre stage again for this traditional French carol (the title translates as "Whence is that goodly fragrance flowing?"), and we hear him using sue rather ethereal harmonics too. One for the guitar technique nerds out there.
If there was one track on the album that had to be classed as a guilty pleasure, this would be it. Long beloved of children's choirs the world over, this gentle and charming melody tells the story of Mary's journey to Bethlehem. It's the perfect way to end a cracking fireside collection for the festive season.