BOBBY BLAND [Jan. 27, 1930 – June 23, 2013] was, in his prime, the most powerful blues shouter of all time, though capable as well of a caressing tenderness. “Turn On Your Lovelight” is what the rock world knows, I guess, but the man’s legacy is also in “Ain’t Nothing You Can Do,” “Farther Up the Road,” “I’ll Take Care of You,” “I Pity the Fool,” “Cry Cry Cry,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” to my ear the finest “St. James Infirmary” of them all, the entire Two Steps from the Blues album (the best Southern soul album, even including Otis‘; it has the impeccable and beautiful and scary “Lead Me On,” for many the greatest performance of his career. The list goes all the way up to his Malaco sides, particularly “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City.” It is not true that Bobby Bland never made a bad record; it is true that his ratio of great to mediocre is as high as any other singer you can name, in any genre you care to cull. To call him Bobby “Blue” Bland always seemed redundant to me—as if he could be heard for so much as eight bars and you wouldn’t know that this was his core, his essence and, one way or another, a heap of your own… He was a key voice of the black Southern working-class from the ’50s onward. His role was to play the shouter from the anonymous ranks, the totally heartbroken man among an all-but-totally heartbroken folk. (And of course, once in a while, shouting with all the more exuberance because of that everyday heartbreak.)… I, who found him on the radio and held him very close to the center of my being for the better part of half a century, will never be able to thank him enough. Or often enough. Or even express what I’m thanking him for altogether adequately. —Dave Marsh, from Rock & Rap Confidential.