Life at 33 1/3: Os Mutantes: Os Mutantes (Polydor)

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Roll up, roll up for Brazilian psychedelia

Brazilian cult band (often wearing weird hats) whose name is being whispered in awe in the inner circles of rock music.  The list of admirers counts Kurt Cobain, David Byrne, The Bees, Hot Chili Peppers and Beck.

The band was heavily influenced by British and American psychedelia (including being out of their brains on LSD; founding member Arnaldo Baptista later got himself institutionalized, jumped out a window and into a six week coma), but they managed to create a highly original version by mixing the far-out sounds of the West with their own cultural background, connecting it to the contemporary Brazilian avant-garde movement Tropicália (a blend of theater, poetry and music).

Imagine psychedelic rock mixed with the bossa nova and samba and ad a spoonful of indigenous music.  Imagine Gong meeting Pentangle and Jimi Hendrix in the Amazon.  Or rather, don’t imagine anything.  Just click on the YouTube-links, I bet you’ve never heard anything like it before.  By the way, they even managed to sneak Batman into their sonic brew.  And trust me, finger cymbals are underrated!

Os Mutantes did not have an easy ride in their homeland Brazil.  In the end they had to flee the country to escape the anger of the military junta and spent some years in exile.

The band reunited in 2006 and have released two albums since then, the last being “Fool Metal Jack” (2013).  Interesting stuff.  But it is the first one that is the real bona fida cult classic.  You’ll get a nice copy on ebay, but expect to blow at least 5,000 baht.

Released: June 1968

(All songs written and composed by Arnaldo Baptista, Rita Lee and Sérgio Dias except where noted)

Side One

1. “Panis et Circencis”  Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso 3:40

2. “A Minha Menina”  Jorge Ben 4:45

3. “O Relógio”  3:31

4. “Adeus, Maria Fulô”  Sivuca, Humberto Teixeira 3:06

5. “Baby”  Caetano Veloso 3:01

6. “Senhor F”  2:35

Side Two

7. “Bat Macumba”  Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso 3:10

8. “Le premier bonheur du jour”  Franck Gérald, Jean Renard 3:39

9. “Trem Fantasma”  Caetano Veloso, Arnaldo Baptista, Rita Lee, Sérgio Dias 3:18

10. “Tempo no Tempo”  John Phillips – Version: Arnaldo Baptista, Rita Lee, Sérgio Dias 1:47

11. “Ave Genghis Khan”  3:48

Produced by: Manoel Barenbein

Arranged by: Rogério Duprat

Os Mutantes:

Arnaldo Baptista: vocals (tracks 1, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11), keyboards and bass

Rita Lee: vocals (tracks 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11), recorder, autoharp and percussion

Sérgio Dias: vocals (tracks 1, 4, 6, 7, 11) and guitars

Special guests:

Dirceu: drums

Jorge Ben: vocals and acoustic guitar (in “A Minha Menina”)

Dr. César Baptista: vocals (in “Ave, Gengis Khan”)

Clarisse Leite: piano in “Senhor F”

Cláudio Baptista: electronics

Gilberto Gil: percussion (in “Bat Macumba”)