After releasing a promising debut album, Crazy Horse, in February 1971, Neil Young's former backup band was reduced to its rhythm section of bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina, who enlisted three new members -- George Whitsell, Greg Leroy, and John Blanton -- to make Loose (January 1972), essentially the work of a different, inferior group. Nine months later, 40 percent of the membership of Crazy Horse has turned over again for the band's third album, At Crooked Lake, with the departure of Whitsell and Blanton and the arrival of Rick and Michael Curtis. This lineup turns out to be better than the one that made Loose, but still nowhere near the one that made Crazy Horse. And, as fronted by yet another couple of lead singers and songwriters, it again seems like a different band. The Curtis brothers are competent performers, particularly Rick, who writes or co-writes five of the ten selections and sings in a slightly whiny voice while contributing rhythm guitar and banjo. Keyboardist Michael Curtis gets his name on a couple of tracks, and Leroy writes three, among them the attractive ballad "Your Song," while adding effective lead guitar and bottleneck playing. With the acoustic guitars strumming and occasional steel guitar interludes, this is country-rock in the style of Poco, sometimes, as in Leroy's "85 El Paso's," going into straight country. But the songwriting still isn't as good as that of Poco, the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Eagles, or for that matter, the material banished Crazy Horse member Danny Whitten (who finally died of a drug overdose the month after this LP was released) contributed to the first album.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann