In 1968, Brazil’s junta finally had enough of the Beatles-loving, samba-screwing, monstrous teen prodigies who called themselves Os Mutantes. All three principles—singer-guitarist Sergio Baptista Dias and singer-keyboardist Arnaldo Baptista (bolstered by the audio gizmos of offstage sibling Claudio), times exhilarating, occasionally subversively bridal-gowned vocalist Rita Lee—were exiled, along with other impudent artsos of the tropicália movement.
They returned (and broke up) in the ’70s. But in 2006, Sergio and Arnaldo reunited, replacing a reluctant Lee with the piquant Zelia Duncan: This lineup powered the London concert recorded on Mutantes Live. It’s a best-of as psych-pop musical, where pastel ballads levitate into strobe-lit workouts while Don Quixote, Genghis Khan, and Lucifer are greeted again by lovers, dreamers, schemers, and orchestra: They all still wanna live in “Technicolor.” The romantically vulnerable “I Feel a Little Spaced Out” is a cosmic cue for the spiraling of yearning and boldness, irony and passion, of knowing what’s expected of Latin artistes/world-music collector bait and what they expect of themselves, of everybody. The widescreen spaghetti-western vigilante takeoff “El Justiciero” has a new introduction, easing from Sergio’s usual standard-American dialect into “Hor-hay Bo-o-o-sh-h-h, and hees faithful companion, To-nee Blair”; a “Mambo Star” gets to “plant the flag” in California, satirizing and reveling in the sound and celebrity of Carlos Santana. Sweet peaks of the ’60s and oughties line up, somehow causing foresight and flashbacks of the epic hopscotch of Prince’s Black Album along the way. (Also, Devendra Banhart and Noah Georgeson do no harm on “Bat Macumba.”)
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 6, 2007