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Albums Of The Week: Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs | External Combustion

Tom Petty's right-hand man revs it up again on his band's supercharged second set.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs’s second album External Combustion showcases the band’s evolution as they push their sound to a new level, jumping ahead in vision and drive — and proving their 2020 debut Wreckless Abandon was no one-shot deal.

Co-produced by Campbell and George Drakoulias (The Black Crowes, The Jayhawks), the 11-track album was recorded at Campbell’s home studio, Hocus Pocus Recorders in Los Angeles. External Combustion also features songwriter Margo Price and Ian Hunter as well as piano from fellow Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers founding member Benmont Tench. Although Campbell wrote most of the songs on the new album within the past year, two of the tracks were penned in the ’90s, only to be rediscovered in Campbell’s extensive vault of unreleased compositions. Campbell recalled, “The band became this spontaneous type of combustion — to borrow a word. The longer we played, the more intuitive it got.”

The Dirty Knobs came together nearly two decades ago, after Campbell met guitarist Jason Sinay (Neil Diamond, Ivan Neville) at a session and liked the way their guitars sounded together. What began as a less structured project for Campbell in between The Heartbreakers’ tours became something else altogether when they added the rhythm section of bassist Lance Morrison (Don Henley) and drummer Matt Laug (Slash, Alanis Morrissette).

What followed was several years of intimate, almost incognito performances in the band’s home base of Los Angeles and surrounding Southern California cities. After all those years playing together, it became clear The Dirty Knobs should take what they were doing to the next level. Following the passing of Campbell’s longtime compatriot, friend and bandmate Tom Petty and his performances with Fleetwood Mac on their 2018-2019 world tour, The Dirty Knobs released their debut album Wreckless Abandon in 2020 to widespread acclaim.”