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Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs|External Combustion

External Combustion

Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs

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Genius (or at least style) rubs off. Musicians who spend their lives in a band with a strong leader often end up sounding similar when they go solo. The Replacements' Tommy Stinson comes to mind. And so does Mike Campbell—or does he? It's a matter of discerning how much of the Heartbreakers sound actually came not from Petty but Campbell, his friend, longtime collaborator and, sometimes co-writer. On first listen, it's striking as it was on his 2020 Knobs debut Wreckless Abandon how close the timbres are; it's like hearing one part of a single voice. External Combustion also makes clear how much Campbell's songwriting influenced Petty, and vice versa, points writ large here. The album opens with the strongest song, "Wicked Mind" a close cousin of the Heartbreakers' "Running Down a Dream," which aligns the Knobs mindset in a similar space to Petty's chosen vibe: "I'm a sinner with a rebel soul/ Got a wicked mind with a heart of gold." Seasoned and wise from his Heartbreaker years, Campbell's brought back Rick Rubin protege George Drakoulias (who also worked on Wreckless Abandon), to co-produce these sessions. Tracked over three weeks in during the summer of 2021 at Campbell's home studio, Hocus Pocus Recorders in California, Eternal Combustion was recorded, as Drakoulias says, "off the floor" in just a few whole band takes, during which bassist Lance Morrison says Campbell "was showing us the song as we were recording." Guitarist Jason Sinay has said that Campbell "loves it when the band doesn't totally know the songs. Wide-eyed, freaking out, ears open—that's the magic." The sound which emphasizes loud and is certainly a bit squashed, is no worse than any of Drakoulias-produced Heartbreaker records. Drummer Matt Laug, for example, is not overly prominent in the mix. While the spectrum of styles here is wider than the band's debut, the songwriting modes are not surprising or risky. "Brigitte Bardot" is a blues shuffle.  The title track's rapid fire chorus rhythm smooths out into a Heartbreakers-like song story in the verses. The guest list present also marks Campbell as a sage judge of talent. Ian Hunter adds a vocal turn to the second verse of the album's other catchy crash-and-bash single, "Dirty Job." The only other Heartbreaker on the record, keyboardist Benmont Tench, has fun pounding along à la Jerry Lee Lewis on the roots rock, slide guitar workout, "Lightning Boogie." Strings, saxophones and a trombone appear in "State of Mind" Campbell's neo-country duet with Margo Price, his most contemporary guest. While the frontman may be gone, the Heartbreakers' sound and attitude carries on thanks to the other most consequential member of that beloved band.  © Robert Baird/Qobuz

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External Combustion

Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs

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1
Wicked Mind
00:03:54

Matt Laug, Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Lance Morrison, Backing Vocals, Bass - Chris Bellman, Engineer - George Drakoulias, Producer, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Mike Campbell, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Vocals - Martin Pradler, Engineer - Jason Sinay, Guitar, Vocals - Jack Doutt, Engineer - Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, MainArtist

© 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC ℗ 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

2
Brigitte Bardot
00:03:23

Matt Laug, Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Lance Morrison, Backing Vocals, Bass - Chris Bellman, Engineer - George Drakoulias, Producer, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Mike Campbell, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Vocals - Martin Pradler, Engineer - Jason Sinay, Guitar, Vocals - Jack Doutt, Engineer - Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, MainArtist

© 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC ℗ 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

3
Cheap Talk
00:04:38

Matt Laug, Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Lance Morrison, Backing Vocals, Bass - Chris Bellman, Engineer - George Drakoulias, Producer, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Mike Campbell, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Vocals - Martin Pradler, Engineer - Jason Sinay, Guitar, Vocals - Margo Price, Backing Vocals - Jack Doutt, Engineer - Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, MainArtist

© 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC ℗ 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

4
External Combustion
00:04:11

Charlie Bisharat, Violin - Matt Laug, Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Lance Morrison, Backing Vocals, Bass - Patrick Warren, String Arranger, Arrangement Horn - Chris Bellman, Engineer - George Drakoulias, Producer, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Daphne Chen, Violin, Strings Leader - Mike Campbell, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Vocals - Giovanna Clayton, Cello - Leah Katz, Viola - Martin Pradler, Engineer - Jason Sinay, Guitar, Vocals - Erm Navarro, Trombone - Gabriel Johnson, Trumpet - Margo Price, Backing Vocals - Katisse Buckingham, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone - Jack Doutt, Engineer - Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, MainArtist

© 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC ℗ 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

5
Dirty Job (feat. Ian Hunter)
00:04:12

Matt Laug, Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Lance Morrison, Backing Vocals, Bass - Chris Bellman, Engineer - George Drakoulias, Producer, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Ian Hunter, Piano, FeaturedArtist - Mike Campbell, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Vocals - Martin Pradler, Engineer - Jason Sinay, Guitar, Vocals - Jack Doutt, Engineer - Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, MainArtist

© 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC ℗ 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

6
State Of Mind (feat. Margo Price)
00:04:18

Charlie Bisharat, Violin - Matt Laug, Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Lance Morrison, Backing Vocals, Bass - Patrick Warren, String Arranger, Arrangement Horn - Chris Bellman, Engineer - George Drakoulias, Producer, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Daphne Chen, Violin, Strings Leader - Mike Campbell, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Vocals - Giovanna Clayton, Cello - Leah Katz, Viola - Martin Pradler, Engineer - Jason Sinay, Guitar, Vocals - Erm Navarro, Trombone - Gabriel Johnson, Trumpet - Margo Price, FeaturedArtist - Katisse Buckingham, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone - Jack Doutt, Engineer - Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, MainArtist

© 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC ℗ 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

7
Lightning Boogie
00:03:59

Benmont Tench, Piano - Matt Laug, Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Lance Morrison, Backing Vocals, Bass - Chris Bellman, Engineer - George Drakoulias, Producer, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Mike Campbell, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Vocals - Martin Pradler, Engineer - Jason Sinay, Guitar, Vocals - Jack Doutt, Engineer - Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, MainArtist

© 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC ℗ 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

8
Rat City
00:04:01

Matt Laug, Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Lance Morrison, Backing Vocals, Bass - Chris Bellman, Engineer - George Drakoulias, Producer, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Mike Campbell, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Vocals - Martin Pradler, Engineer - Jason Sinay, Guitar, Vocals - Jack Doutt, Engineer - Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, MainArtist

© 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC ℗ 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

9
In This Lifetime
00:03:36

Matt Laug, Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Lance Morrison, Backing Vocals, Bass - Chris Bellman, Engineer - George Drakoulias, Producer, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Mike Campbell, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Vocals - Martin Pradler, Engineer - Jason Sinay, Guitar, Vocals - Jack Doutt, Engineer - Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, MainArtist

© 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC ℗ 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

10
It Is Written
00:03:52

Matt Laug, Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Lance Morrison, Backing Vocals, Bass - Chris Bellman, Engineer - George Drakoulias, Producer, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Mike Campbell, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Vocals - Martin Pradler, Engineer - Jason Sinay, Guitar, Vocals - Jack Doutt, Engineer - Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, MainArtist

© 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC ℗ 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

11
Electric Gypsy
00:04:35

Matt Laug, Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Lance Morrison, Backing Vocals, Bass - Chris Bellman, Engineer - George Drakoulias, Producer, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Mike Campbell, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Vocals - Martin Pradler, Engineer - Jason Sinay, Guitar, Vocals - Jack Doutt, Engineer - Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, MainArtist

© 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC ℗ 2022 Mike Campbell under exclusive license to BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

Album Description

Genius (or at least style) rubs off. Musicians who spend their lives in a band with a strong leader often end up sounding similar when they go solo. The Replacements' Tommy Stinson comes to mind. And so does Mike Campbell—or does he? It's a matter of discerning how much of the Heartbreakers sound actually came not from Petty but Campbell, his friend, longtime collaborator and, sometimes co-writer. On first listen, it's striking as it was on his 2020 Knobs debut Wreckless Abandon how close the timbres are; it's like hearing one part of a single voice. External Combustion also makes clear how much Campbell's songwriting influenced Petty, and vice versa, points writ large here. The album opens with the strongest song, "Wicked Mind" a close cousin of the Heartbreakers' "Running Down a Dream," which aligns the Knobs mindset in a similar space to Petty's chosen vibe: "I'm a sinner with a rebel soul/ Got a wicked mind with a heart of gold." Seasoned and wise from his Heartbreaker years, Campbell's brought back Rick Rubin protege George Drakoulias (who also worked on Wreckless Abandon), to co-produce these sessions. Tracked over three weeks in during the summer of 2021 at Campbell's home studio, Hocus Pocus Recorders in California, Eternal Combustion was recorded, as Drakoulias says, "off the floor" in just a few whole band takes, during which bassist Lance Morrison says Campbell "was showing us the song as we were recording." Guitarist Jason Sinay has said that Campbell "loves it when the band doesn't totally know the songs. Wide-eyed, freaking out, ears open—that's the magic." The sound which emphasizes loud and is certainly a bit squashed, is no worse than any of Drakoulias-produced Heartbreaker records. Drummer Matt Laug, for example, is not overly prominent in the mix. While the spectrum of styles here is wider than the band's debut, the songwriting modes are not surprising or risky. "Brigitte Bardot" is a blues shuffle.  The title track's rapid fire chorus rhythm smooths out into a Heartbreakers-like song story in the verses. The guest list present also marks Campbell as a sage judge of talent. Ian Hunter adds a vocal turn to the second verse of the album's other catchy crash-and-bash single, "Dirty Job." The only other Heartbreaker on the record, keyboardist Benmont Tench, has fun pounding along à la Jerry Lee Lewis on the roots rock, slide guitar workout, "Lightning Boogie." Strings, saxophones and a trombone appear in "State of Mind" Campbell's neo-country duet with Margo Price, his most contemporary guest. While the frontman may be gone, the Heartbreakers' sound and attitude carries on thanks to the other most consequential member of that beloved band.  © Robert Baird/Qobuz

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