Os Mutantes: The Best Band You've Probably Never Heard Of

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Pink Floit via Flickr
Os Mutantes were one of the most influential rock groups to emerge during the late '60s in Brazil. The band - initially a trio with Rita Lee, Arnaldo Baptista and his brother Sergio Dias - fell under the graces of the founders of the Tropicalismo movement, Brazil's response to psychedelia.

Mutantes went on to gain national recognition when they participated in the landmark 1968 LP Tropicalia ou Panis et Circensis (Phillips) with Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Tom Ze and Nara Leal, but were lucky enough to escape mostly unscathed from the political persecution that the others suffered from the military dictatorship that took control of the country after a coup in 1964.

The band's initial influence came straight from the likes of the Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but they also borrowed a lot from the sounds they grew up hearing in Brazil. Their sound incorporated everything from soul, jazz, samba, early funk and other genres, a mish-mash that ultimately became the band's sonic signature.

Os Mutantes went on to have a fruitful career that lasted through numerous lineup changes until the band ultimately broke up in 1978. They remained dormant until the Baptista brothers reformed the band in 2006 sans Rita Lee, who refused to participate in the re-launch.

After a successful U.S. tour, Arnaldo Baptista once again left the group in 2007, leaving his brother to lead the new lineup including founding drummer Dinho Leme. This version released Haih or Amortecedor (Anti) last year.

Over the decades, Os Mutantes influenced numerous contemporary musicians, including the late Kurt Cobain, Beck and David Byrne - who re-released the band's long-deleted albums on his Luaka Bop label, including a live recording of their 2006 reunion show at London's Barbican Theater.

Their influence is also felt in Latin America, where their sound can be felt in the music of groups such as Pato Fu (Brazil). Aterciopelados (Colombia), Café Tacvba (Mexico) and others.


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