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Released: April 28, 1969

Rating: 4.264 (average of 11 ratings)

Genre: jazz-influenced rock

Quotable: CTA showcases a band whose muscular musicianship and creative restlessness fostered two LPs worth of music that was as aggressive and far-ranging as its singles were friendly and inviting.” – Jerry McCulley,

Album Tracks:

  1. Introduction
  2. Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
  3. Beginnings
  4. Questions 67 and 68
  5. Listen
  6. Poem 58
  7. Free Form Guitar
  8. South California Purples
  9. I’m a Man
  10. Prologue, August 29, 1968
  11. Someday (August 29, 1968)
  12. Liberation

Sales (in millions):

sales in U.S. only 1.0 *
sales in U.K. only - estimated --
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated 1.0

* Actually certified for sales of 2 million because it was a double album upon its release. Today its running time allows it to fit on one CD.


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart 17
peak on U.K. album chart 9

Singles/Hit Songs: *

  • Questions 67 and 68 (8/9/69) #24 US, #34 AC
  • I’m a Man (1/10/70) #49 US, #8 UK
  • Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? (11/7/70) #7 US, #5 AC
  • Beginnings (6/26/71) #7 US, #1 AC


Rated one of the top 1000 albums of all time by Dave’s Music Database. Click to learn more.

Chicago Transit Authority
The band Chicago went through a few name changes before ever releasing their first album and still one more name change after that album’s release. Starting out in 1967 as The Missing Links, they changed their name to The Big Thing, were sometimes known as The Big Sounds, and eventually settled on the name Chicago Transit Authority. While touring the album, the band was threatened with legal action, leading them to shorten their name to simply “Chicago.” WK

Under any name, “few debut albums can boast as consistently solid an effort.” LP However, “the group was far from the proverbial ‘overnight sensation.’” LP The band had “been honing its eclectic blend of jazz, classical, and straight-ahead rock & roll in and around the Windy City for several years.” LP “Having morphed – some would argue devolved – into a predictable ballad machine by the ‘80s, it’s good to be reminded of Chicago’s original artistic ethos and vibrant promise.” JM “Chicago weren’t yet the ‘70s hit-singles factory they would shortly become, and CTA showcases a band whose muscular musicianship and creative restlessness fostered two LPs worth of music that was as aggressive and far-ranging as its singles were friendly and inviting.” JM

The original incarnation of the band with its mix of rock and jazz was “actually two highly stylized units that coexisted with remarkable singularity. On the one hand, listeners were presented with an incendiary rock & roll quartet of Terry Kath (lead guitar/vocals), Robert Lamm (keyboards/vocals), Peter Cetera (bass/vocals), and Danny Seraphine (drums). They were augmented by the equally aggressive power brass trio that included Lee Loughnane (trumpet/vocals), James Pankow (trombone), and… [Walt] Parazaider (woodwind/vocals).” LP “Lamm, Kath and Pankow were the band’s main composers at this juncture.” WK

They didn’t make it easy on themselves with “a double-disc affair” LP for their first time out. That proved a tough sell to the band’s label. Luckily James Guercio, who produced the musically similar Blood, Sweat & Tears on their #1 eponymously-titled sophomore album, took on Chicago in 1968 WK and lobbied Columbia Records to take a chance. “Very skeptical, seeing as the band had no track record, Columbia only agreed to the concept if the group would take a royalty cut.” WK

Once released, the album “proved to be an immediate hit, reaching #17 in the US and #9 in the UK. While critical reaction was also strong, the album initially failed to produce any hit singles, with the group seen as an album-oriented collective.” WK In time, however, “a quarter of the material on the double album – Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?, Beginnings, Questions 67 and 68, and the only cover on the project,” LP “their rhythmically pumped cover of the Spencer Davis Group’s I’m a ManJM, “also scored as respective entries on the singles chart.” LP As a result of the delayed singles and their growing success with other albums, “the album stayed on the charts for a then-record 171 weeks.” WK

“Those familiar cuts belie the downright progressive and angular nature of much of the rest” JM of the album. “The tight, infectious, and decidedly pop arrangements contrast with the piledriving blues-based rock of Introduction and South California Purples as well as the 15-plus minute extemporaneous free for all Liberation.” LP As “one of rock’s pioneering horn sections,” JM Chicago sports “enough experimentalism (Poem 58) that it frequently overwhelms their undeniable genius with a pop song.” JM “Even farther left of center are” LP “the politically intoned and emotive Prologue, August 29, 1968 and Someday (August 29, 1968)LP as well as “the experimental avant-garde Free Form GuitarLP, “which fuses Terry Kath’s neo-psychedelic guitar (which careens to noisy, feedback-laden Hendrixesque extremes).” JM

“Chicago would seldom sound so adventurous after this, one of rock’s greatest debut albums.” JM

Review Source(s):

Questions 67 and 68

I’m a Man

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?


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Last updated September 13, 2010.