Wreckless Abandon is the debut album from guitarist Mike Campbell (Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Fleetwood Mac) and his band, The Dirty Knobs, set for release by BMG on March 20. The Dirty Knobs are Jason Sinay (guitar, vocals), Lance Morrison (bass), and Matt Laug (drums) in addition to Campbell. The album was produced by George Drakoulias (The Black Crowes, The Jayhawks) with all songs written by Mike Campbell, in addition to co-founding Heartbreaker, Benmont Tench, and singer/songwriter Chris Stapleton. The band initially formed 15-years ago but Wreckless Abandon is their debut album, and the first occasion to tour. As Campbell explains, “The Knobs became an outlet for me to play some of the other songs I was writing and to keep the creative juices flowing in between working on albums and tours with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.” They would perform in the band’s home base of Los Angeles and surrounding cities.
Following the death of Tom Petty in 2017, Campbell knew the only way to heal some of the pain was to throw himself wholeheartedly back into his music. “Losing Tom was earth-shattering for me. It was a total shock,” Campbell continues. “It had felt like we would be playing together forever. For a while it was hard to imagine playing in my own band again, let alone one where I’m the front man. Tom was always my beacon. But with The Dirty Knobs, (it) is in the spirit of honoring what we did together.”
From the first notes on Wreckless Abandon to the closing track, it has the feel of a Petty-produced project, with stellar musicianship, tongue-in-cheek lyrics, and the overall freedom to jam, creating songs that feed one’s soul. “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” featuring singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton, is a rockin’ tune quite reminiscent of Petty’s style of composing and playing throughout his career with excellence, authenticity, and in the spirit from the days of The Heartbreakers. “Irish Girl” does, in fact, sound like a new Petty song, with soft guitar riffs and harmonies that flow along with the lyrics. “Don’t Knock The Boogie” has an almost ballad-like tune with a strong rhythm section driving the music along, highlighting the superior songwriting, and the polished, professionalism of the musicians who breathe life into the songs.
Originally set for release on March 20, Wreckless Abandon, has been delayed, just as the tour has been postponed due to a medical issue. None the less, it effortlessly fills some of the void left behind with Petty’s death in 2017. Fans of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers will find kindred spirits in the songs of The Dirty Knobs, so do what WXRT, WXPN, WTTS, The Current, Lightning 100 and so many others have already done, and give it a listen at your next music meeting. Your ears will thank you for it.