The Pet Shop Boys might have been talking about C+C Music Factory when in their 1986 song ”Opportunities” they sang, ”I’ve got the brains, you’ve got the looks/Let’s make lots of money.” Robert Clivillés and David Cole are the production brains behind C+C Music Factory’s megahits, ”Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” and ”Things That Make You Go Hmmm…”; singer/model Zelma Davis and rapper Freedom Williams supply the looks. That outfit’s future, at least with its present personnel, is uncertain: Among other complications, Clivillés and Cole think they themselves are the only permanent members of their band. And their prospects are nothing but sunny. As if to prove they’re the ones who created the muscular Euro-hip-hop you’ve been dancing to, they’ve gone back into the studio with an armload of samples to produce Greatest Remixes Vol. 1, an album credited to them alone.
Greatest Remixes is a collection of superhype singles, two of them new C+C compositions, the rest fresh versions of songs (most originally written and produced by Clivillés and Cole) by artists ranging from disco fluffball Sandee to rock saviors U2. The remixes bear C+C’s unmistakable stamp — they’re driven by power beats and an intricate layer of samples, and sound intent on herding the whole world onto the dance floor. As the ultimate party record, Greatest Remixes succeeds brilliantly, but it’s also a masterwork of engineering technique, proving that in the hands of the right producer, what makes a record work doesn’t have to be the singer or the song. C+C effortlessly charge up wimpy pop tarts like Seduction until they sound almost as good as proven dance greats like Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam.
The producers’ hearts are more on the disco floor than the hip-hop stage — they keep the beats simple and repetitive, the mixes heavy on drama, with movie-score strings, crashing rainfall, and chilly electronic keyboards. Only two tracks depart from this formula, both by necessity. Seduction’s chirpy ”Two to Make It Right” is given the heavily syncopated edge its breathy pep-rally chorus desperately needs, and the unrelentingly ’70s sound of Chaka Khan gets a sparkling hip-hop makeover on ”Clouds.”
Rather than swamp a so-so tune in dazzling pyrotechnics, C+C work within a song’s natural limits, bending the production to fit the artist. Their ”techno-house version” of ”Pride (In the Name of Love)” adapts U2’s inherent pomp to other musical styles just as overblown, namely grandiose gospel and insistent house (today’s descendant of insistent disco). Give them an artist whose brawn and intensity match their own, however, and the duo is unstoppable: Greatest Remixes hits its highest high with ”Let the Beat Hit ‘Em,” an irresistible dance number by nasty girl Lisa Lisa, remade as a staggering tapestry of beat, melody, and tough tease. And Clivillés and Cole’s soaring production, ”A Deeper Love,” takes dance-gospel to places Hammer’s current ”Pray” can’t even imagine. In the age of the pop producer as auteur, Clivillés and Cole have proven themselves undisputed kings of the genre. A