Written by Brazilian journalist, researcher, writer and singer-songwriter Chris Fuscaldo, the “Discobiografia Mutante: Albums that Revolutionized Brazilian Music” is a bilingual book that celebrated in 2018 the record legacy left by the Mutantes. After all, that was the year in which Os Mutantes, the band’s first album that revolutionized the history of national music, turned 50. The book tells the story of the albums recorded by Arnaldo Baptista, Sérgio Dias and Rita Lee and so many others that have been with the trio, highlighting very curious, yet little-known stories. Among them are some very amusing ones such as the photo of the cover of the debut album of the band, in which Rita posed wrapped in a tablecloth bought by her mother in a charity bazaar of a church. There is also a passage about the participation of Jorge Ben (Jor) in this album: “Not only did he write ‘Minha Menina’ but he also played guitar and still sang and imitated the television host Chacrinha during the recording. Jorge is the voice that precedes the solo of Sérgio Dias saying ‘Cough! Everybody cough!'”, says Chris in the book.
Ms. Fuscaldo came to New York for a special launching event that took place at the iconic Greenwich Village bookstore, Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books on January 30th. In a conversation moderated by Paula Abreu, programmer of the SummerStage festival, and accompanied by the Mutantes’ guitar player, Sérgio Dias via Skype, she talked about her writing process and her knowledge on the band.
The Band that Caused Controversy
The year of 1968 was different for Rita Lee, Arnaldo Dias Baptista and Sérgio Dias Baptista, who recorded their first album as Os Mutantes (which later became only Mutantes) never to be forgotten. The band caused controversy, innovated Brazilian popular music when they introduced electric instruments in the song festivals, musical events that had a similar-sized audience to that of a soccer championship final. While Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso tried to curb dictatorship’ censorship and the risk of being arrested at any moment – which they ended up being – the boys still enjoyed a youth that, one might say, made its transition from teen rebellion to counterculture.
The covers of the Mutantes’ records can yield speculations, debates and, as Rita even jokes, “even a doctoral thesis”. However, the research results show that the trio often horsed around so much that the covers were mere summaries of what they really were. The irony is evident in most of them. In “A Divina Comédia ou Ando meio Desligado”, for example, Rita, Arnaldo and Sérgio wanted to confront the conservatives with a photo of the three in the same bed. With this irreverence, as The New York Times has reported, the band has won over even foreign artists, from David Byrne to Kurt Cobain. The Nirvana leader even wrote a letter to Arnaldo Baptista and stated in an interview: “I know they were very revolutionary, they created their own effects. And they provoked a lot of controversy, they had the courage to do what they did during the military regime.” Son of John Lennon and musician, Sean Lennon, who invited Arnaldo to play with him in one of the editions of the Rock in Rio festival, praises the work of the Mutantes: “I did not know there was a band like this in the world. It was one of the best recordings I’d ever heard. It seemed they noticed the British psychedelia, but they had a very particular sound.”
Discobiografia Mutante: Albums that Revolutionized Brazilian Music
Portuguese / English – 243 pages
Author: Chris Fuscaldo