Only two Brazilian rock bands really made it abroad. Heavy-metal Sepultura and psychedelic Os Mutantes.
Os Mutantes’s success is peculiar in the fact that the band had its heyday in the late sixties and early seventies, when it was instrumental in shaping counterculture in Brazil. It was dismantled for decades, till the nineties, when it was progressively brought back to life, championed by Kurt Cobain, Beck and David Byrne.
Initially formed by brothers Arnaldo Baptista and Sérgio Brito, and red-haired-enfant terrible singer Rita Lee, it blew the country’s mind with its experimentalism and funny, surreal performances, that mixed bridal dresses and Napoleon outfits. Their free and crazy attitude was particularly striking in the tense period of censorship and political restrictions the country faced at the time.
With strong connections with Gilberto Gil and the Tropicália movement, Os Mutantes were also influenced by the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, and even by Bossa Nova (they played with João Gilberto).
Last year, the band – led by Sérgio Brito, the only remaining mutante – released its first album since the 70s, “Haih or Amortecedor”, and toured several US cities. Now, after the 32 American shows, the band prepares to introduce “Haih Or Amortecedor” to the Brazilian audience.
Check this cool trailer from a documentary about Os Mutantes (that I suspect was never concluded).
Also, try this great clip of “Domingo no Parque”, sang by the band with Gilberto Gil.