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"Blacknell was a funk guitarist, band leader and singer from the Bay Area. He was so much more than that though...the worlds of Black music and civil rights owe him an honorable mention, if not a debt of gratitude as he was also an activist on the music scene ... This is Rare Groove at its rarest. It's also the sort of collection that you can't help feeling sentimental listening to, perhaps, wondering and hoping whether there's an after-life where the departed are capable of consciousness and pride. This is a legacy to be proud of Mr. Blacknell. Funk in peace."
- Groud Lift Magazine
"A great introduction to the artist and an interesting listen because it spans generational influences; from early ?60s rock and roll to ?70s 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. "
"A revelatory elegy to the unsung Californian R&B giant."
- Record Collector
""Gettin' Down" single-handedly opened my mind (and record collection) to a new format for learning about new music, and it raised a high standard for subsequent indie-funk excursions...What we learn is that Blacknell's life mirrored his music. A talented guitarist with a long career spanning from the early '60s to late '80s, his music constantly reflected the changing styles and times. From the rhythm 'n' blues hustle of "Jump Back" to the pimpy title track, he proves to be an adroit artist with an ear for solid hooks and disciplined musicians."
- Prefix Magazine
"'We Can't Take Life for Granted' compiles the bulk of Blacknell's output, from the hard-shuffling instrumental blues of "Jump Back" to the wildly syncopated, lyrically optimistic funk number "I'm So Thankful," all of it fueled by his staccato, rhythmically propulsive guitar attack."
- San Francisco Chronicle
"For a long time, all that most people knew about the late Eugene Blacknell was this retarded open break in the intro to his ?Gettin? Down? single. Thanks to Ubiquity, however, it?s time for the Oakland guitar master to be known to the world. I can?t say enough about Blacknell and his work ... 'We Can?t Take Life For Granted' is Blacknell?s painfully overdue official debut. And remember, I don?t like anything. But this album hit me like a Joe Louis left hook..."
Oakland guitar ace Eugene Blacknell released multiple singles that ranged in style from raw R&B to power house funk. His musical career stretched from the early 1960s when as a talented and sharp dressed kid, he would become the youngest musician from the Bay Area to play the Apollo in New York, to the end of the 1980s when he died too young.
During that time he established himself as an East Bay original, an entrepreneur, and an activist. His ability to cross-over from R&B to blues, funk and soul put him at head of the Bay Area scene and he was often compared to the likes of Albert and BB King. His business dealings were inspirational. His band were able to break into new scenes and live circuits, and he helped improve standards of pay for African American musicians in the Bay Area. With so many accomplishments it?s an irony of fate that he died before releasing an album despite having recorded enough material for several.
Ubiquity?s re-issue arm, Luv N'Haight Records, worked with Gino Blacknell (Eugene's son, himself a producer and a young member of Eugene Blacknell and the New Breed at the tail-end of their existence) to compile information, images and music to release this first official album by Eugene Blacknell. Gino has always promised his Mom that he would make sure his father?s music was eventually released. Digging up hours of old master tapes he found unreleased material, radio advertisements, demos, live recordings, and he even improved mixes on several tracks. He also found footage of his father riding choppers with Sly Stone, checking out drag car races, and playing live at San Francisco music festivals. During the process of putting this album together Gino suffered chest pains that turned out to be a series of minor heart attacks. At time of writing he is in good shape and recovering well and was able to help finish out this project, which in the meantime we had coincidentally titled ?You Can?t Take Life For Granted? after one of the unreleased cuts. Without an album release, which would have cemented his recordings in the most accessible format back in the day, the legacy of Eugene Blacknell has been kept alive by way of the stories past on from musicians lucky enough to work with him. In addition his handful of tracks released on 7" singles have been sampled by many, most notably Beck (?We Know We Have Got to Live Together? was used on ?Black Tambourine?). His singles have become DJ-favorites with the rarest fetching top dollars on the collectors market.
This compilation is made up of his super rare early releases as Eugene Blacknell and the Savonics, the highly sought after raw instrumental funk as Eugene Blacknell and the New Breed, his big band party-style vocal tracks, and a host of unreleased material including the radio advertisements, live recordings, and both vocal and instrumental studio cuts. Fans of Bay Area Funk will recognize the different musical periods that Blacknell goes through with comparisons ranging from acts like Johnny Talbot and Tower of Power to Sly Stone and Graham Central Station.