You can’t make this stuff up. A Nashville jack-of-all-trades during the 1970s, Chance Martin was Johnny Cash’s right-hand man and stage manager for two world tours; a songwriter and musician; a would-be outlaw called the Stoned Ranger; a professional man-about-town; and is currently a co-host of a country show on Sirius XM. In the late 1970s, he and some ex-cop buddies recorded a crazy-ass solo album, which Martin released in a limited run on his own Macho Records. For 30 years, In Search has been a footnote to a footnote, one of approximately infinite albums lost to the dustbin of Music Row history. Thanks to the North Carolina-based label Paradise of Bachelors, however, Martin’s sole full-length is now getting a larger release. Thirty years have done nothing to dull this oddity.
In Search is a mind-bending mélange of mescalin-buzzed country-rock, surrealist-manifesto disco, coke-addled funk, and chicken-fried prog. There are no rules in Chance’s world, so if he wants to indulge some easy-listening strings, make like Barry White visiting a Stuckey’s, or drop “Theme from ‘Peter Gunn’” right in the middle of a song…who’s going to tell him no? It’s not that some ideas don’t work or others miss the mark; it’s that the sheer force of his personality compels every note into a realm where “good” and “bad” may not be applicable. Because it sounds like a man cramming a lifetime of musical dares into 70 minutes of music, In Search can overwhelm a listener, but Martin’s sense of humor — self-deprecating, self-deflating, but somehow self-mythologizing — ensures you won’t turn it off until the last cosmic notes of closer “Drema” have faded.