7 January 2017, No. 227, Bob James,‘Take Me to the Mardi Gras’

Agogo bells were always around when I played percussion in the school band, but the bells riff from No. 227, Bob James’ “Take Me to the Mardi Gras,” isn’t very cool (or recognizable) without the trap kit accompaniment, and somehow we never got that groove together in our little jams before and after class. To be fair, Run-DMC’s “Peter Piper,” which uses the bells and drums intro from No. 227 to iconic effect, was pretty played out by the time I hit the band room in the early 1990s, and besides, we were busy figuring out Nirvana riffs on the marimba.

The longest portions of No. 227 are chock-full of syrupy electric piano happiness and crap strings. I never knew this was a Paul Simon song, and I don’t think I’ve ever even seen the There Goes Rhymin’ Simon LP on which it appears, but Simon’s authorship goes some way toward explaining why most of the song is cloying and upbeat. There are only two good parts in the Bob James version, and for the mixtape I edited them together and cut out all the spun sugar. It’s maybe the shortest edit in any of these mixes so far, in and out in less than a minute, but there’s nothing left sneer at, and that’s what I wanted.

Some “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” drums also show up in “Hold It Now, Hit It” from the Beastie Boys, but not the bells. That song uses only the first three drum hits, ba-dap boom. Another case of Rick Rubin deploying the same samples all over the place. And I’m glad he did. “Goddamn that DJ made my day,” as they say (or producer, rather, though surely it was Jam Master Jay who turned Rubin on to the Bob James record). Hold it now (hold it now, hold it now), hit it!