The “keyboard wizard” and ten-year veteran of John Fogerty’s band has recorded his famously inspired, incendiary rendition of the Dylan classic at long last
Bob Malone is a famously funky force of nature. That he’s a musician of soulful multitudes was a well-kept secret in L.A. for a few years, as musicians and civilians alike would speak in awe of this Jersey boy with the amazing piano chops who sang like Dr. John and wrote hip, romantic songs of his own. He seemed like a perfect hybrid of Mose Allison with Billy Joel–melodic, always soulful, but also swinging with a deep zydeco funk.
But Malone didn’t stay secret for long. Soon he was showing up at all gigs in and around town, from Hollywood nightclubs to outdoor all-day Dylan festivals–and also on records of every kind. He quickly became known as a great sideman – amazing on piano, organ, accordion and more. He’s one of those guys, like Benmont Tench, who can play anything. From Beethoven to The Inkspots to Beatles and Motown and far beyond, there’s nothing that he can’t play. He’s a virtuoso, but a soulful one.
Soon he was playing on records by everyone, including Ringo Starr, Bob Seger and Avril Lavigne. And it didn’t take long, as seemed inevitable, that a major touring rock star would enlist Malone in their touring band. But who would it be? Dylan? Springsteen? Van Morrison?
All good guesses, though wrong. It was John Fogerty, who recognized that Malone was a kindred musical soul, and like Benmont Tench with Petty, could cover the full spectrum – from blues, folk, jazz and funk through R&B, soul, rock & roll and beyond – and always with authentic soul.
Like Fogerty himself, who is both a great songwriter and a guitar hero, Malone is a serious songwriter himself, and also an instrumentalist who can find the soul of any song and inhabit it fully. From complex turbo-charged polyrhythmic soul-jazz excursions to the most fundamental folk-rock anthems, Malone knows how to light it on fire. It’s why 2021 marks his tenth year playing with Fogerty and the band around the world.
And his unchained talent and perpetually palpable musical passion is not going unnoticed. That which many knew for years now is official. Even The New Yorker has caught on, dubbing Malone a “keyboard wizard,” while the Pittsburgh Gazette nailed the truth in a review of a Fogerty show, that Malone was “the best musician on the stage outside of Mr. Fogerty himself.”
And as his fans know, even while touring with Fogerty, Malone keeps writing and recording his own music, and doing shows in America and Europe. His newest album is Good People, being released on May 21. Malone described it as a musical exploration of “the loss, burnout, alienation, existential dread and fleeting moments of hopefulness I happened to be going through – in spite of the carefully curated self I presented to the world on social media. Nothing new, of course, but in 2020 those feelings suddenly became more universal than they’d ever been in my lifetime.”
Good People mixes all of Malone’s multitudes in a great gumbo – beautiful new originals as well as his singular takes on three cool covers. There’s Fogerty’s own classic “Bad Moon Rising,” there’s “Oh Well,” from the first Fleetwood Mac incarnation, written by Peter Green.
And there’s one Malone’s fans have been urging him to record for years, his incendiary occupation of Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue,” in which this intimate, folky epic is funkafied wondrously. And yet the song isn’t ever derailed from its passionate promise of a slow train forever coming. From Malone, though, we learn it’s a soul train.