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The easiest thing to do would be skip this single, which wasn’t noticed at the time and certainly wouldn’t have been missed much if we passed it over.

But that’s not fair to Cliff Blivins… who already was made to suffer on this release when Modern records spelled his name wrong on the label.

So what if we’re not entirely sure when this was recorded… 1950, as others have claimed, or 1952 which is more likely?

So what if Blivins had been incommunicado on wax since the late 1940’s and thus was probably not going to be remembered by anyone in 1952… let alone have people anxious to read about him seventy-one years and counting after that?

The fact of the matter is we’re chronicling rock singles from the start of the genre to the present, no exceptions made, and this is definitely a rock single… and not a bad one at that, no matter how obscure it might be.


Do My Best To Please You
I suppose we should start with the historical confusion as to this song’s true vintage, as obviously the career of Clifford Blivins was hardly something many people spent a lot of time researching.

Modern Records, for all of their many faults (according to BMI, Jules Bihari, as usual, stole half the writing credit for this, though Cliff got full credit on the label itself) were actually pretty reliable when it came to releasing material while fairly fresh.

In other words they were not inclined to hold over a record for two full years, then suddenly decide to release it now for no apparent reason. So this was probably cut within the last month or two… not 1950 as the skimpy notes to the one meager CD collection this was included on, claims.

If Make Love To Me WAS two years old however, that actually is a pretty good case that Blivins – or more likely Maxwell Davis – was ahead of the curve, for while this isn’t cutting edge for either year, it’s definitely a contemporary sound for 1952 with a sturdy dramatic arrangement with moaning horns, piano triplets and a deep bottom that frames Blivins stentorian vocals rather nicely.

Though he was rather limited in his singing, Blivins was effective when sticking to his strengths which included an affinity for the dramatic which is this song’s primary component. You can certainly argue that he’s overdoing the seriousness of things, considering all he’s trying to do in the song is get laid, but to be fair for some guys that’s a pretty dramatic request to make and he’s definitely not underselling his desire here, even though he’s wisely choosing to deliver this in a controlled manner rather than appear desperate.

The result is a pretty solid effort, whether he got lucky in bed or not, as the song has a catchy mid-tempo melody, an insistent beat and decent sax solo. But it’s Blivins who comes away looking best here, as he’s taken a pretty typical plot and gave it enough detail to make it come alive.

Throughout it all he never steps wrong vocally… his power, his control and most impressively, his use of a conversational singing style where you can see his character’s mind working as he approaches each line, gives this far more resonance than it may deserve.

While his technique may seem to some to be rather obvious, he knows precisely how much to let his voice swell at times to reveal his anxious anticipation, then drop back down when he realizes his desires will go unfulfilled, almost as if he’s shaking his head in wonder as he tries to soothe himself following another let-down… something he had more experience with in life than he’d probably like to admit.

It’s no threat to be a hit, but it’s also nothing to be ashamed of no matter the year.


I’ll Make Everything Okay
One of the things lost to time is the day to day existence of singers on the margins of the industry like Clifford Blivins.

We know he got his start working for – and then with – Big Jay McNeely. He also turned in a great performance with Edgar Hayes and His Stardusters but when nothing came of it commercially, he seemed to vanish.

But did he really? In the years between releases was he out of the business entirely? Did he go pump gas for a living, or work in a shoe store or paint houses?

Or is it more likely that he kept toiling away on the club circuit, singing a few nights a week, maybe even get a longer residency in some rundown joint, all while he kept hoping for another break?

Whatever it was he did, maybe even enduring plenty of nights where he really DID have to ask some half-bored female patron lingering at the bar to Make Love To Me and hoped she pitied him enough to consent, he put his time to good use.

Maybe the frustration of not getting more chances to record – or the frustration of not getting laid as much as he’d like – made him more determined to take advantage of both opportunities should they come around again.

We know by now – and he surely does as well – that Clifford Blivins is never be a star under any name, but this record shows that there are worse things in life to be than an also-ran as a rock singer, for as long as you keep at it and not allow yourself to grow bitter, there are still songs to be sung, records to be made, fans to win over and maybe even a few attractive women who might just give you a tumble every once in awhile.


(Visit the Artist page of Clifford Blivens for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)