Saturday, June 14, 2008


Last night, at the art opening, a trio played bossa nova and punk rock, and Jim asked if we knew Os Mutantes.

The psychedelic Brazilian band was an important part of the Tropicalia movement, a 1960s Brazilian art movement that encompassed music, theater, art, and poetry -- a renaissance that flowered until the military government saw them as politically subversive and tried to wipe them out. Tropicalistos were creative experimenters who smashed down walls, and weren't afraid to address social issues; as a result, many were jailed, tortured, and exiled. Founders Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso were incarcerated, then exiled.

Musically, the movement was all over the map. Tropicalistos combined pop, bossa nova, African music, Bahian folk, Portuguese fado, and rock.
Os Mutantes ( "The Mutants" in Portuguese) played a particularly bright psychedelic mix. Formed by the Baptista brothers, Arnaldo and Sergio, and lead singer Rita Lee, in 1965, they released many popular albums that showed a love of traditional Brazilian forms as well as the psychedelic music of The Beatles, Hendrix, and Sly and the Family Stone. They met and worked with Gilberto Gil, who got them into the center of the movement. Predictably, they were threatened by the military government but managed to elude those narrow-minded thugs and produce some wild, free, crazy music we still enjoy today.

Os Mutantes went on to influence everyone from David Byrne to Beck. The above clip is the trailer from an upcoming documentary about the group.

Click button to hear A Minha Menina by Os Mutantes


tina oiticica harris said...

This film lost its producer for a few reasons. Rita Lee has her solo career and Arnaldo left the reformed Os Mutantes during the European leg of their tour.

Sérgio, his brother, patiently reformed the band. There are free downloads of one song, Mutantes Depois, both in my blogs Universo Anárquico® and Anarchiic_Universe®.
Tom Zé is writing with Sérgio. Go to for the banners of the three pus the reformed band, if you wish.

Bob Rini said...

Thanks so much for the information, Tina. I look forward to exploring your blogs. I'm sorry we won't get to see this documentary, or is there a plan to salvage the project?

I know there was a reunion tour in 2006 with Zelia Duncan replacing Lee, and then Karina Zeviani replaced her after that. In spite of all the changes, I was happy to see that Os Mutantes released their first single in thirty years this past April.

David Lasky, Esq. said...

Thanks again 9 lb hammer, for being one of the best music blogs around!

The Tropicalia movement is one of the great stories (and some of the best music) of the 20th century.