Reviews: Eugene Blackwell - We Can't Take Life For Granted

Published at okayplayer.com

Eugene Blacknell
We Can’t Take Life For Granted
Released by Luv N’ Haight

The youngest musician from California’s Bay Area to play New York’s legendary Apollo Theater rolled with Sly Stone and Marvin Gaye and was compared to celebrated blues man BB King. Despite these credentials it is only now, five decades since his start, that guitarist Eugene Blacknell’s first record is being released. Blacknell had a career that spanned from the ’60s through to the ’80s but passed away in 1990 before an album of his work was issued. We Can’t Take Life For Granted is structured compilation-style and comprised of 25 rare, and very varied, recordings and radio announcements by Blacknell. It’s a great introduction to the artist and an interesting listen because it spans generational influences; from early ’60s rock and roll to ’70s funk. There is also revival-esque vibe to many of the tracks due to a funky electric organ taking residence on almost half of the record. However, Blacknell is more than adept at blurring the line between a religious experience and real life by pairing the organ with gyrating bass lines and racing guitar solos.

From the steady-shuffling “Jump Back” to the synthed-out “Space Funk,” We Can’t Take Life For Granted is an excellent example of how artistry matures and morphs over time. It’s unfortunate that Blacknell is not given the accolades that many great guitarists of his time are awarded, especially considering that he accomplished what he did in a life that lasted only 44 years.