The story behind Mick Fleetwood’s 1983 I’m Not Me is well known. It was his second “solo” album for RCA Records, but everyone, especially Fleetwood, knew it was a band effort. Fleetwood’s name was the draw, but The Zoo was a fully formed ensemble that had been playing together for a year. This occurred because Fleetwood wanted a real group and not an album put out by studio musicians who’d come by, do their parts, and ride off to other projects.
The principal members of the Zoo were Fleetwood on drums, guitarist/singers Billy Burnette and Steve Ross, and bassist/singer George Hawkins. (Hawkins had appeared on Fleetwood’s previous release, The Visitor). As Burnette, Hawkins, and Ross shared lead vocal duties and co-wrote many of the songs, the band’s structure was easily compared to that of Fleetwood Mac. In addition, the album was produced by Richard Dashut, producer of Rumors and Tusk. As Mac cohorts Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham added their own contributions to a few of the tracks, the resulting album had much in common with Fleetwood’s more famous ensemble.
In the studio, I’m Not Me evolved into a very pleasant, good-natured collection of soft-rock. Due to the presence of three lead singers and their various approaches, the album offers a nice variety of musical settings. The set opens with The Beach Boys’ “Angel Come Home,” and other covers include Tom Snow and Nan O’Byrne’s “You Might Need Somebody” and Lloyd Price’s “Just Because.” Price’s song evokes early ‘60s Tin Pan alley tunes, but the rockabilly scorcher “Tear It Up” comes from a different stylistic direction. It was co-written by Dorsey and Johnny Burnette, Billy’s father and uncle, respectively.
If you’d like a dose of pure AM pop, “This Love” takes you there with Clarence Clemons inspired sax lines. For those who’d like a more overt serving of Mac ingredients, The minor hit, “I Want You Back,” is as close to a Mac attack as any track on the album. I’ll go out on a limb with this one—the bluesy “I’m Not Me” is reminiscent of the Danny Kirwan led period of the pre-Rumors edition of Mac, especially his song “Tell Me All The Things You Do.” On the other end of the spectrum, as if to prove the Zoo was no solo effort, two songs don’t feature Fleetwood at all. Beach Boys-esque harmonies and a lovely piano are all that is needed for “I Give.” In the same spirit, simple strumming guitars without Fleetwood’s drums distinguish the slow “Put Me Right.”
All in all, it’s strange to note this is the first CD release of I’m Not Me. (Vinyl fans can also purchase the album in that format.) Seriously, this re-issue is long, long overdue. For Mac fans, there’s no reason to bypass this set even if you lean to the work of other FM alumni. Lindsey Buckingham called his last project a “small machine” when comparing his more intimate releases to the “large machine” of Mac. I’m Not Me is somewhere in the middle of such machines. If you don’t like it, someone you care for will.