Os Mutantes

Barbican Theatre, London 2006 (Luaka Bop)

Though over the years there had been much speculation about an Os Mutantes reunion concert, the event would not happen until almost 30 years after the breakup of their final lineup in 1978. In the fall of 2006, three of the band's original members (brothers Arnaldo and Sergio Dias Baptista, plus drummer Dinho Leme) reunited at London's Barbican Theatre to mark the 40th anniversary of Tropicalia, a cultural revolution that changed the face of music, theater, and cinema in Brazil. Missing from the classic lineup were original bassist Liminha (who has since become a sought-after music producer) and temperamental vocalist Rita Lee, who refused the invitation on the grounds she was busy with a DVD anthology of her long career. (After leaving the band in 1972, she went on to become one of Brazil's major rock stars.) To handle Lee's vocals, the trio recruited singer-songwriter Zelia Duncan and assembled a band formed by backing musicians from Sergio Dias' live ensemble. On this live recording, the band members seem to have regenerated to their youthful years, breezing brightly through their early-'70s catalogue. Hits like "Baby," "Panis et Circenses," and "Balada do Louco" are blended with more obscure, prog-rock-inflected tunes like "Ave Lucifer" and "A Hora e a Vez do Cabelo Crescer." In one of the disc's greatest moments, Dias does an extended guitar solo halfway through "I Feel a Little Spaced Out" to the tune of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Also worth a spin is "Bat Macumba," in which Devendra Banhart and Noah Georgeson join the band as they close the show.

 
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