Picks and Pans Review: Oh Yes I Can

updated 03/20/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/20/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

David Crosby

The astonishing fact, of course, is that this record was ever made. Crosby's life as a gun-toting, cocaine-freebasing addict had brought him near destruction so often that he's lucky to be alive. What's left of Crosby, 47, can be heard on Oh Yes I Can, his first solo effort in 18 years. On the plus side, there are traces of his years as a Byrd and as part of CSNY. His contributions to those folk stalwarts were simple, bluesy songs with a bite, and his songwriting keeps this album from becoming a bland void. The single "Drive My Car" and "Monkey and the Underdog" deal with his addiction and desperation to stay clean ("...Cause the underdog is a friend of mine/ I'd just love to see him put that monkey in his place)." He's more effective on such slower-paced tunes as "In the Wide Ruin," written by Craig Doerge and Judy Henske, and "Distances," which is reminiscent of Crosby's work on CSN's eponymous 1977 album. Oh Yes I Can is marred by halting arrangements—the instrumental "Flying Man" and "Lady of the Harbor," for instance, with trite lyrics like "How many eyes, through how many tears/ Saw the promised land when they saw you." Crosby wraps things up with "My Country 'Tis of Thee," a simple anthem that sounds more inspirational when sung by fourth graders than by a man pushing 50. Crosby's patriotic stance might be perceived as a bit self-serving, given his transgressions of the law, but if you've been to hell and back like this ol' walrus, maybe someone, somewhere can find it in their hearts to cut you some slack. (A&M)

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