Carl Craig is one of house and techno’s most prolific remixers. But it’s not only the volume of his output that’s impressive—the number of stone cold dance music classics in his remix discography is ridiculously high, too, challenged only by only a handful of producers like David Morales, Frankie Knuckles or Masters At Work. Carl Craig changed the remix game, delivering timeless reworks of other artists’ tracks and injecting them with his own singular musical vision time and time again.
In the course of his more than 20-year-long career, Craig has probably delivered close to 100 reworks. Unsurprisingly, he was not only asked to work his magic on tracks from the underground dance music scene, but was also frequently commissioned by major labels and big indies to remix pop and chart topping dance acts.
Carl Craig is playing our Telekom Electronic Beats Clubnight this Friday, August 17 at PAL in Hamburg. For more information, visit the event page here.
To get you ready for the party, we compiled eight of his best remixes. Check them all out below.
Tori Amos, “God (The Rainforest Resort Mix by Carl Craig)” (EastWest 1994)
Two years before Armand van Helden landed a huge club hit with his remix of “Professional Widow”, Carl Craig was commissioned to add his remixing skills to one of Tori Amos’ tracks. Tori Amos was in her prime, and Carl Craig delivered two stunning, richly layered versions of the US singers’ song “God”. Both are equally great, with tribal drums as the driving foundation for Amos’ voice. “The Rainforest Resort Mix” takes the cake thanks to his more elaborate synth work, that, even back in 1994, was already unmistakably in the style of Carl Craig. With both clocking in around the ten-minute mark, each mix also shows off another of Craig’s strongest traits: a keen sense for dance floor drama.
Junior Boys, “Like A Child (Carl Craig Remix)” (Domino 2007)
This is a quintessential Carl Craig remix. 808 toms, an arpeggiated synth melody, a few chords, finger snaps and Jeremy Greenspan’s vocals are assembled together in one of Carl Craig’s magical and highly hypnotic build-ups. When the kick drum finally comes in nearly four minutes into the remix, the dance floor is in for relieved gasps of excitement. A minute later, Craig adds the bass line, which usually has a similar effect.
Deee-Lite, “Heart Be Still (Carl Craig Remix)” (Elektra 1996)
At just under five minutes in length, Craig’s remix for Deee-Lite is a bit of an outlier. But even considering its brevity, it’s a mesmerizing track created with very few elements. In other words: there isn’t one gram of fat on this remix. Every element and sound is exactly where it needs to be to make it work. And work it does!
S’Express, “Theme From S’Express (Carl Craig’s Surprise Remix)” (Rhythm King 1996)
S’Express’s Mark Moore and Carl Craig have been friends since they met on one of Craig’s first trips to London sometime around 1990. Moore and S’Express were already big stars, catapulting the UK version of acid house into the charts. Craig’s reimagining of “Theme From S’Express” concentrates on the vocal sample from TZ’s “I’ve Got The Hots For You”, and expertly loops it over a bouncy bass line and a sampled drum loop to hypnotic effect.
Yello, “La Habanera feat. Rush Winters (Carl Craig Remix)” (Urban 1996)
The early releases by Yello (like “Bostich”) at the beginning of the 80s had a huge and lasting impact on the dance music scene in the US. They were staples at pre-house and techno parties from Detroit to Chicago to New York. Unsurprisingly, Carl Craig eventually remixed one of Yello’s tracks. “La Habanera” is the opener of the Swiss duo’s 1987 album One Second. Here, Craig stays pretty close to the original’s playful latin vibe, but accentuates the rolling bass line and beefs up the drums. The result is another dance floor sure-shot.
Depeche Mode, “Useless (Carl Craig Air20 Remix)” (Mute 1997)
In Interviews, Carl Craig has talked about how Mute Records had an enduring impact on his musical socialization. His take on Depeche Mode’s “Useless” was his first and best remix for Daneil Miller’s label, and his take on the Throbbing Gristle classic “Hot On The Heels Of Love” is a close second. Here, Craig shows his knack for working a breakbeat to great effect (which you can also hear in his remix of La Funk Mob’s “Raver Suck Our Sound”). On top of that he layers sweeping static and a simple but effective bass line laced with Dave Gahan’s vocals.
Inner City, “Good Life (Buena Vida) (Carl Craig Remix)” (PIAS 1999)
Carl Craig has remixed Detroit’s breakthrough techno pop act Inner City a number of times over the years. His take on “Good Life (Buena Vida)” from 1999 features his own ad-libbed vocals quite prominently in the drawn-out intro, creating a call-and-response with Paris Grey’s original vocals. In true Craig fashion, the kick drum and the bass line drop late, but once they do, you’ll lose your marbles on the floor.
Hugh Masekela, “The Boy’s Doin’ It (Carl Craig Remix)” (Verve Records 2005)
“The Boy’s Doin’ It” is the title track of the eponymous album from South African jazz and funk trumpeter Hugh Masekela from 1979. 25 years later Craig turned the cheerful slow funk song into a charged dance floor monster, with a brooding arpeggiated bass line, added 909 claps, his trademark sub bass burps and an also arpeggiated synth melody like only he can do it.
LCD Soundsystem, “Sound Of Silver (Carl Craig C2 Remix)” (DFA Records 2007)
In the hands of Carl Craig, the tropical punk funk of LCD Soundsystem’s original is transformed into yet another prime time club tool, complete with dramatic strings and driving synth arpeggios. As formulaic you might think Craig’s remixes have become over the last 20 years, done well it still not only does the job but it creates memorable dance floor moments, like few producers are capable of.
Want to watch more Carl Craig? Check out EB.tv’s exclusive video feature with him below.
Published August 15, 2018.