Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

Song Review by

According to James Pankow’s commentary in the liner notes of the 2002 remastered CD edition of Chicago Transit Authority (1969), “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” “was the first track that we started.” Thus began the band’s four-plus decade long recording career. This catchy Robert Lamm composition has also had quite an impact on the charts as it became Chicago’s third Top Ten hit in less than seven months. Although it was considerably lighter fare than other album sides such as “Questions 67 & 68” or the edgy “South California Purples”, it pointed the way for the Adult Contemporary leanings that would become synonymous with the combo during the ensuing decades. The narrative is a fairly straight-forward observation of the hurried and harried modern society as it ultimately fails to take the ‘time’ to appreciate anything existing outside of its’ insular world. Musically, the juxtaposition of Chicago’s biting horn section -- in particular, Lee Loughnane’s stunning trumpet -- and Lamm’s slightly dissonant piano introduction, gives “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” a distinct flavour and ultimately sets the tenure for the band’s sound. When the song was issued as the A-side of a 7” single (b/w “Listen”) in November of 1970, Lamm’s piano intro was judiciously removed. Although the original 45 featured a monaural mix, a stereo version of the single edit is available on the two-CD Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning compilation. In addition to becoming one of Chicago’s most identifiable hits, there are several live renditions available -- most notably on the Live in Japan 1972 (1973) double-disc set, which is linked to the extended “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? [Free Form Intro]” from Lamm. There are also a few interesting covers, including a rare recording from Brit metal icons Deep Purple on their Listen Learn Read On (2002) box set as well as jazzy readings from Grant Green and Sunny Sumter, respectively. Although never officially released, former Public Enemy member Flavor Flav’s unissued It’s About Time (1999) includes, as one might expect, a decidedly hard-core rap rendering.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Chicago Transit Authority 1969 Rhino / Chicago Records Dist. 4:36
Chicago IX: Chicago's Greatest Hits 1975 Chicago Records Dist. 3:19
If You Leave Me Now (And Other Hits) 1983 Flashback Records / Rhino Flashback 2:54
Beginnings 1985 Charly Records
Group Portrait [4 CD] 1991 Chicago Records Dist. 4:35
The Heart of Chicago 1967-1997 1997 Reprise 3:20
Best of the Best: 70's Pop & Rock, Vol. 2 1999
Various Artists
Primary Colors 3:21
Anthology 1999 Dressed To Kill 3:03
The Heart of Chicago: 1967-1981 2000 Dealmakers 3:20
1970 [Direct Source] 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 3:05
70's: Get Ready 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 3:07
Best of the 70's: Hits of 1970 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 3:07
Jam Session [Direct Source] 2000 Direct Source 3:15
70's Groove Machine [2000/2003] 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 3:07
Best of the Seventies 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 3:07
The Best of the 70's, Vol. 1 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 3:05
Best of the 70's [Direct Source 6 CD Box] 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 3:07
Strange Daze 2001
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill
The Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning 2002 Rhino 3:19
Chicago Story: The Complete Greatest Hits 1967-2002 [2 Disc] 2003 WEA International 3:19
'70s: Gold 2006
Various Artists
Hip-O 3:19
The Best of Chicago: 40th Anniversary Edition 2007 Rhino 2:45
The Very Best of Chicago 2008 Allegro Corporation / Hallmark Recordings / Platinum Legends 3:20
Chicago: Collector's Edition 2009 Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:21
Original Album Series 2010 Rhino / Warner Bros. 4:36
The Ultimate Chicago: Australian Tour Edition 2010 Rhino 3:19
The Very Best of Chicago & Foreigner 2010 Rhino / Wea UK 0:00
The Collection 2012 Rhino 3:21
Clear History 2013 Relativity 3:20
Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago 2016 Rhino
No Image K-Tel Distribution
The Studio Albums 1969-1978, Vol. 1 Rhino