My Top 1000 Songs #270: Why Can't I Touch It?
1979 single "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" was my introduction to the amazing Buzzcocks, and remains a personal favorite (we'll get there soon enough), subverting my suburban Midwestern understanding of British punk rock by offering infectious power pop in a turbo-charged package. But the real draw for me was the b-side, "Why Can't I Touch It?" (both available on that perfect compilation Singles Going Steady).
Yeah, it's all right there in that bassline, a simple, endless riff that, even at a very not-punk-like six and a half minutes, still seems to end way too soon. Throw in the extended dueling guitar jam, swapped staccato jabs coming at you from both speakers, and the song sounds more like the headphone-friendly classic rock of my youth (much like Television's "Marquee Moon") than most of the British punk scene. Ok, you've got Pete Shelley's cutting vocals and the double entendre lyrics taking it out of radio-ready territory, but the hypnotic funk sprawl is a far cry from, say, "Orgasm Addict."
Plus, as a guitarist (albeit of minimal skills), it's an awesome song to jam along with.A slowed-down groove, live in 1989:I finally got to see the band a few years ago, shortly before Shelley's death, and it looked like this:A quick Pearl Jam vamp on it:Elephant 6 indie-psych-glam-pop act Elf Power did a nice version on their covers album: