This home-recorded Mick Fleetwood project, never before issued on compact disc, is neither a solo effort nor a Fleetwood Mac knockoff — though, admittedly, there are moments when I’m Not Me can sound like his main group. Instead, more often than not, this short-lived quartet has its very own feel — well, a bunch of them, really.
Of course, Fleetwood Mac diehards will want to pick up I’m Not Me, set for long-awaited reissue on May 29, 2012 through Real Gone Music, because it includes “I Want You Back” — a lost minor hit that Lindsey Buckingham co-wrote and shared lead vocals on. Three tunes also feature lead vocals by Billy Burnette, who recorded and toured with the band for eight years during a Buckingham hiatus. “This Love” was co-written by producer Richard Dashut, who worked in a similar role on Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Mirage, Tango in the Night and Time — and co-produced a pair of solo projects with Buckingham, as well. Christine McVie also adds background vocals.
The main group, which included Fleetwood, Burnette, guitarist/vocalist Steve Ross (Men at Work, Beach Boys) and bassist Roger Hawkins (Kenny Loggins, Aretha Franklin) had, in fact, initially been assembled to back Buckingham during a February 1982 solo appearance on “Saturday Night Live.” Something clicked, and the group repaired to the studio to knock out some tracks. In keeping, “I Want You Back,” arriving as it does between Mirage and Tango in the Night, could have easily fit into either of those contemporary Fleetwood Mac efforts. But, really, I’m Not Me is far too layered and complex, too much of its very own thing, to be lumped together with Fleetwood’s more celebrated work there.
Zoo, in fact, had three of its own credible frontmen — and each of them adds his own texture and personality to the proceedings: Ross’ sleek take on “You Might Need Somebody,” an amiably grooving slice of blue-eyed soul, segues into Hawkins’ snarling stadium-rock number “Tonight.” Burnette’s country-blues title track sits alongside “State of the Art,” a riffy pop-rocker from Hawkins, which is then followed by Burnette’s brawny take on the mid-1950s gem “Tear It Up” — co-written by Burnette’s father Dorsey, an early-rock pioneer.
Burnette’s sensitive rendition of “Angel Come Home,” a tune Dennis Wilson wrote for the Beach Boys, frames up the album’s low-key vibe perfectly, with its ear-tickling, off-the-cuff combination of rough rockabilly, soaring So-Cal backing vocals and propulsive power pop. Heck, Ross steals away from his own emotional ballad “I Give” at one point to front a galloping version of Lloyd Price’s “Just Because.” It’s that kind of record — loose and lots of fun. In fact, Fleetwood doesn’t even play on “I Give,” and only adds the lightest of percussion to “Put Me Right,” Hawkins’ album-closing tune. That’s how little ego there was surrounding I’m Not Me.
Unfortunately, this was the only album this quirky, deeply underappreciated quartet ever managed. Fleetwood Mac resumed a few years later, and when Fleetwood jump started Zoo again in the early 1990s, it was with Billy Thorpe, Bekka Bramlett and Greg Wright, among others.