Brazil’s Sérgio Dias discusses fifteen surprising albums that helped shape his psychedelic group
by Allen Thayer
For Issue 31, Wax Poetics contributor Allen Thayer spoke with Os Mutantes about their radical transformation of Brazilian music and the manner in which they were able to fuse rock, tropicalia, and psychedelia into something revolutionary. As a Wax Poetics online exclusive, guitarist Sérgio Dias discusses fifteen of the albums that contributed heavily to Os Mutantes’ dynamic sound.
The Ventures Twist with the Ventures (1961)
I started my guitar adventure learning this cat’s walk. Nocky Edwards was the best teacher, with his mean guitar work that is still technically very difficult.
Russ Garcia Fantastica (1959)
He made orchestrations for early sci-fi films. He was one of the first guys, as far as I know, that used electronic instruments like oscillators and stuff. I took my first “space-out” walks, wandering the galaxies of the music of the spheres, listening to this genius and his vision of “space-age music.”
The Beatles Revolver (1966)
This one hit me in the heart, and it’s a killer! All of the Beatles—Everything. Every time a Beatles album was released, it was like a change of your perspective on life, so I would have to name all of them. On Rubber Soul it was the introduction of vocals as a very important part of their writing and playing. Rubber Soul is a cornerstone. Revolver also. If you listen to “Tomorrow Never Knows,” you still can’t believe that somebody could do something like that.
Celly Campello Broto Certinho (1960s)
She was the voice of Brazilian youth. She was rebellious; she was our Natalie Wood. She was a singer from the beginning of the beginning of the rock music here. She was basically doing the early stages of the twist like Neil Sedaka.
Nino Tempo and April Stevens Nino and April Sing the Great Songs (1964)
Great vocals! We loved the interaction, and the band behind them was great! Their way of singing and the music is great.
The Everly Brothers The Everly Brothers (1958)
Arnaldo and I used them as mirrors, being brothers and such. They [helped us] solidify our singing.
Peter, Paul and Mary In the Wind (1963)
Rita joined our “Everly Brothers,” and we started to create more intricate harmonies. [Arnaldo and I] were in love with Mary of course.
Swingle Singers Bach’s Greatest Hits (1963)
This one really hit us because we had our classic influences from the cradle. When Johann Sebastian Bach joined Mutantes—what a treat! They used to sing Bach, but just vocals, and that influenced us a lot, because we were very much into classical music. My mother was one of the first women to write a concerto for piano and orchestra, and one of the best writers and interpreters that I have ever seen playing piano. She was somebody that influenced us more than anyone. We would see her coming back to center stage for a standing ovation like fifteen or sixteen times in the theater. She was outrageous.
Nat King Cole A Mis Amigos (1959)
Smooth and sexy! What a great pianist he was. He sung in Portuguese on this one: “Quero chorar, nao tenho lagrimas…”
Sly and the Family Stone Stand! (1969)
They really took us into the fifth dimension! We flipped out over the distorted bass and the beats.
Demonios da Garoa Trem das Onze (1965)
They were an outrageous band from São Paulo. They sing great, kind of a country style. They are the epitome of Paulista samba. They had a precious humor that they carried with their songs, a superb band with great harmonies, and the caipira singing along with the Mooca accent made us proud to be the Paulistas that we are!
The Rolling Stones Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967)
I used to fly along in my car listening to this one over and over. This made the Stones transcendent for me with their great vocals and percussion work.
Jimmy Smith Bashin’ (1962)
He’s the main influence on Arnaldo’s Hammond playing; he is still the best! Nobody plays like him. He’s the Cat!
Les Paul and Mary Ford Bye Bye Blues (1952)
My dear teacher, how I sweated to play the solo in “Bye, Bye Blues.”
Duane Eddy Dance with the Guitar Man (1963)
Claudio brought him up, and that gave us the awareness that sounds sometimes are as important as the notes!