Mick Fleetwood's continental mix
Mick Fleetwood, drummer for rock-and-roll's supergroup Fleetwood Mac, has branched out on his own with an unusual musical project - an amalgamation of American rock and African music, using over 200 Ghanaian musicians, including children, on their own turf. The resulting musical meeting is already out in album form, entitled ''The Visitor'' (RCA AFL 1-4080).
Mick, who feels that the visual aspects of such an undertaking are as important as the music itself, is especially happy about a recently released RCA VideoDisc of the musical sessions in Ghana. RCA VideoDiscs already has in its catalog ''Tusk,'' documentary about the making of Fleetwood Mac's platinum album.
But Mick Fleetwood, who started Fleetwood Mac in 1967 with Peter Green and John McVie (the band now includes Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, and Lindsey Buckingham), feels a special closeness to his pet project and first solo album, ''The Visitor,'' calling it ''. . . the culmination of a lifelong ambition,'' adding that he has always wanted to do an album using African rhythms as a base for what he describes as ''a rock-symphonic synthesis of Western and African music.''
The concept for ''The Visitor'' began in 1973 when Mick went to Zambia for a period of rest. He spent a lot of time in the bush on his own, and loved it. The idea for a musical project began to grow in his thought, and after discussing it with several musicologists, he chose Ghana as a suitable site.
Mick's lawyer and adviser, Mickey Shapiro, who accompanied Mick to Ghana, says, ''They called it 'Fleetwood's Folly.' The idea of packing up five or 10 tons of equipment and flying it to Ghana, recruiting a team of musicians and technicians to spend six weeks in West Africa recording whatever we might find, and then selling this obscure and expensive project to a record company was not the proverbial 'piece of cake!' ''
In December 1980, Fleetwood - along with producer Richard Dashut, bass player George Hawkins (from the Kenny Loggins band), guitarist Todd Sharp (from the Bob Welch band), two 24-track portable recording units, and a film crew - left for Ghana. In spite of some adjustments in life style - there were no telephones or telecommunications of any sort where they were - the ''visitors'' were warmly received, and Shapiro commented after the project was completed, 'We found unbounding friendship, limitless hospitality, and refreshingly unspoiled musical talent.''
Although the album isn't quite the blend of styles that one would hope - some songs are African-flavored, but others are strictly American rock - a kind of sweet spirit of camaraderie nevertheless pervades the music. Fleetwood himself seems the ideal fellow to do a project of this sort. Gentle-mannered and almost self-effacing, he could put just about anyone at ease, and it's clear that he is in the business for the sheer enjoyment of the music and the people who play and listen to it.
''I play to the singers, I play to the song,'' he says. ''I feel that with Fleetwood Mac, people are aware of our sensitivity. We don't have technical prowess - we're pleasantly unaware when people say, 'Oh, you're so good!' I don't sit around thinking about drumming all day long, I never practiced madly. I just enjoy doing it.''
A documentary on the project will be aired over PBS at a future date.