Aw man... Just when we thought this whole Bob James' "Take Me To the Mardi Gras" without the bells thing was getting sorted, along comes this: A cryptic youtube video post from one "bobjamestheory" which offers yet another theory as to the origin of the long-rumored bells-less "Mardi Gras" promo-only 12-inch single reputedly to be in Biz Markie 's possession. True story, or just someone having a laugh? Peep audio of the "backwards bells"(?!?) version, and the alleged back-story (involving a paper maché suitcase and promotional candy bar), and judge for yourself...
There are only 4 of these known to exsist [sic]. Here is the story behind this and the "bell-less" versions floating around.
"In the early 70's when Bob James "One" was recorded and released, CTI was starting to gain momentum and making some money. Creed Taylor decided to play a joke on Bob James when he was recording his second album titled "Two" - In Early March, Creed Taylor pressed up 4 copies of a 12 inch for "Mardi Gras" and had the tape running backwards on the track with the "bells" and pressed it on vinyl. The pressings arrived just before April 1st (fools day) and on April 1st, Bob James was called into Creed Taylor's office to present the idea of making the "bells" go backwards and pitched the idea of the "space bells" at the beginning. Bob James was totally against it and fell for the joke until he realized it a was April fools. They both had a laugh and that was supposed to be the end of it.
At the record pressing plant in Venezuela, the person mastering the recording thought the bells going backwards in the left speaker was a possible mistake so he pressed up a "mono" version only recording the right side onto vinyl. (The side with no bells) 4 promos were pressed : 2 mono copies with no bells and 2 with the bells going backwards. Hand written on the "backwards bells" (or "spacebells") in marker read "bells."
Biz Markie got his hands on a copy of the backwards bells version (together with the CTI record case made of paper mache and contained a promo CTI chocolate bar (which Biz Markie already ate years ago) he doesn't mention this out of embarrassment.
Biz noticed it had the word "bells" written on it in washable ink so he wiped off the word "bells" and now tells people he has a "bell less" version (which he does) but in what context he won't tell you. (And he didn't want to tell people he had a "backwards bell" version because he didn't want to be ridiculed so he only recorded the right side of the record (the side with no bells) and plays it in Serato.
So Biz Markie owns one. Where are the others? I have a copy and supposedly Thes One has one. Rumor has it that Bob James (or Creed Taylor) himself dishwarped the other copies and uses them as ashtrays for guests.
When Paul Simon (the original writer for this song) was asked about all of this "bell less" hype, he just looked at us really strange and gave no comment."
(h/t egotripland reader Frank Ejara)