Images of cover and records courtesy of Killed By Death Records.

Image below courtesy

NOT LONG AGO I WAS BROWSING THROUGH a flea market and stumbled upon this 45 RPM vinyl record. It was the cover art that caught my eye, printed off register in cyan, magenta, yellow and black, the 4 printing colors used in full-color printing. The graphics were a beautiful example of rock ’n roll art from the short-lived, anti-authoritarian punk rock era in the late 1970s—that hard-driving, body slamming music that was the antithesis of the smarmy disco music that was playing in every mainstream club in America.

The 45 sleeve was for a band called Chronics, and included the vinyl record. Personally, I was never really deeply into punk rock at the time, but did like the The Clash and the Ramones. Here, I figured, was a “garage” punk art band, and since the price tag was only $3, I figured I would buy it for the cover art if nothing else.

Later, it took just minutes for me to find out quite a bit about Chronics. The band was composed of Bill Elliott, playing lead guitar, singing vocals (backing); Dave Deluca, rhythm guitar, vocal (lead); Dan Didonato, drums, vocal (backing); and Tim Dorman, playing bass guitar and singing backing vocals.

The web site Clepunk has this brief bio of Chronics:

“Right before Dan, Dave, Bill and Tim formed Chronics, Dave and Bill were in the Nuclear Ants with Mark Nolan and Brady Burnett. Dan was the drummer of Oil Can Harry and Tim was the sound man for OCH. In early ‘77, inspired by the Sex Pistols, Dave, Dan and Bill met at Bill’s house for a game of riffs. After the first triplet, something clicked. “Let’s do this a lot”, they chimed in unison, “all we need is a bass player.”

“Searching high and low they eventually begged Tim to pick up the bass and join. He gave in. After 3 months of rehearsal (2 months and 29 days more than the public deserved) they hit the road for a gig in Youngstown followed by a stint in the Motor City and then back to the Pirates Cove in Clevo, opening for the likes of Raven Slaughter and hanging out with Johnny Dromette. About that time, former member of Cookie (band Dave and Dan were in ’68 to ’70) Rick Perez had become a successful Cleveland lawyer and got a few of his lawyer buds to throw in some dough and pay for a recording session at Suma Recording giving birth to Nuclear Record #1 Calling All Cardinals/Test Tube Baby (2000 copies were pressed).”

“On the recording Ron Pirtle played bass on Test Tube Baby and Brady Burnett played drums with Dan DiDonato on percussion on Calling All Cardinals. Sending copies overseas, the record got to #11 in the Netherlands and also hit the charts in Germany. At Tri-C, Chronics made a lip-synch video for Test Tube Baby. They also played Henneseys, opened for Ubu at the Pirates Cove, and played at Major Chords in Columbus with the Pagans. Writing tunes with social commentary and popability, Chronics untimely demise came in the summer of ’79 following a scuffle at a wedding party between Bill and Dan. At the time, interest in the 45 release had reached L.A., but the band had to decline offers for gigs there.”

NME, the e-zine music news site, calls “Test Tube Baby” and “Calling All Cardinals” the number 1 and 2 songs for Chronics.
  • 1. Test Tube Baby
  • 2. Calling All Cardinals
  • 3. Callin All Cardinals
  • 4. Make you move
  • 5. Slippin’ and Slidin’
  • 6. Put ’em Down
  • 7. Chronic Disease
  • 8. Soulshaker
  • 9. Save Me
  • 10. Shake And Make
Finally, it turns out the record I found is pretty rare (only 2,000 pressed) and sells for between $50 and $75 bucks if you can find one. For me, it’s the cover art that caught my attention—but I am digging the tunes!

If you know anything about this band, please comment—I’d like to learn more!