June 1999
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Os Mutantes Everything Is Possible! (Luaka Bop/Warner Bros.)

A review by Courtney Knopf

"It’s time now to learn Portuguese…," lilts Rita Lee on "Baby," a song from Brazilian outfit Os Mutantes’ greatest hits compilation Everything Is Possible!. And when she says it, you all but have to hold yourself back from signing up from a summer course and jetting off to Rio.

Culled from Os Mutantes (literally ‘the mutants’) first five albums, Everything Is Possible! is a sparkling collection of their work from 1968 to 1972. The songs range from languid bossa nova grooves to more up tempo rock with salsa-ish stylings. Lead vocalist Rita Lee has a voice that recalls Astrud Gilberto at her more winning moments, and guitarist Claudio Baptista could quite possibly have been separated at birth from Carlos Santana.

"Ando Meio Desligado" was their biggest hit in their native Brazil, and it’s easy to understand why; the harmonic vocals slither into your brain and the tune sounds a bit like Carole King’s "I Feel The Earth Move." But it then erupts into a spiraling guitar groove and some raucous hooting and hollering that no doubt Fred Schneider took a hint from in the early days of the B-52’s.

The English language version of their 1968 song "Baby," (re-recorded in 1971) is the stand out track on the album. A tilt of the hat to Bossa Nova legends like Antonio Carlos Jobim and Stan Getz, the song saunters along with Lee’s vocals and brings to mind a lazy summer evening spent in a hammock with a cold drink. In other words, complete and total seduction of the extrauditory canal.

The rest of the album is largely in Portuguese (as well as bits of Spanish and French), though it will be released in tandem with their English language album Techincolor!, which was previously unavailable. "Fuga Nº II" is a lushly produced track with swelling string arrangements and a haunting vocal while "Cantor De Mambo" is a classic song to shake a tail feather to with the band repeatedly shouting "Mambo!" "Panis Et Circenses" is a Gilberto Gil song that they’ve taken on as their own; a sort of meandering almost Mamas and Papas-ish tune with similar vocal harmonies and a muted trumpet and flute. "A Minha Menina" is an infectuous rock song with a crazy beat and plenty of hand claps and ba-ba-bas to keep the listener happy.

With equal parts Martin Denny Exotica, Jobim Bossa Nova, and Sgt. Pepper inspired psychedlia (not to mention a couple hits from a bong), Os Mutantes cook up a delicious dish for you aural pleasure. So while you may not be able to make it down to Rio for the madness of Carnaval, Everything Is Possible! can at least put you in the right mindset for a tropicalia revival of your own.

B+ [89%]

Pre-order Everything is Possible! from CDnow before June 8!

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