Reviews & Spotlights
Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs: External Combustion
It is written in the Tom Petty biographies that the leader of The Heartbreakers once asked his guitarist and right hand man Mike Campbell not to release his own music because vocally they sound very similar to each other. Now, that might have been due to the effect of the deep south's humidity on their vocal chords. Or, because of their close working relationship for more than 40 years together. Whatever the case may be - five years after the death of one of the greatest and most significant rockers of our time - Campbell has begun releasing his own music that is often very Pettyesque. His high powered burner sophomore statement called External Combustion has announced its arrival as it kicks Campbell's solo profile into higher gear and straight into the well-deserved spotlight.
Mike Campbell has now proven over two full length albums that he is the natural successor to The Heartbreakers throne as he matures and gets more comfortable in his role as frontman. Musically, it is great for the fans to have access to an extended canon of material as much of it recalls that group's classic sound. But, Campbell has his own musical ideas and his own output at times is more experimental and adventurous than his work with Petty who once famously declined Mike's composition that went on to become a number one hit for Don Henley in the form of "The Boys of Summer". As his own band leader Campbell is now free to move in any direction he chooses to incredibly satisfying results.
The opener and lead single "Wicked Mind" is a rocker that is wicked good with slick guitar work. "Brigitte Bardot" leans more toward old school rock and rockabilly stylings with some infectious slide sounding throughout. "Cheap Talk" shines a light on Campbell's increasing vocal confidence as it incorporates some modern psychedelia with a Beatleseque breakdown and strings. Campbell takes a page out of his old boss's book by teaming up with one of the hottest female artists of our time featuring Margo Price on "State Of Mind" that pays off nicely as it conjures up memories of those great Petty/Nicks duets from the 80's.
On the title track and the closer "Electric Gypsy" Mike sings about fighting his own many demons. But, with repeated listens of External Combustion all we see and hear is head-spinning music made by a man determined and possessed to boldly make his own mark in the industry while he still has the time to burn down the road with some fuel still left in the tank.
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Review by Rockin' Rich Lynch |
Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs