A lot of people were wondering who Less Than Zero was written about, especially after the line, "Calling Mr. Oswald with the swastika tattoo." Xenophobic Americans assumed it was Lee Harvey Oswald, the man labeled John Kennedy's assassin, in fact it was about Oswald Mosley, an extreme right-wing British politician, known principally as the founder of the British Union of Fascists.
While playing the Warner Theatre in Washington DC, February 28, 1978, Costello gave a special US performance of Less Than Zero that has been called "The Dallas Version." Below are some of the lyrics Elvis sang that night:
Janet takes her clothes off in succession, while her husband rides a bumper in the President's procession. She`s sees him on the screen as she looks up from giving head. When he's had enough of that her lover throws her on the bed to teach her she`s alive and suddenly he`s dead.
Calling Mister Oswald, calling anyone at the scene, If you were taking home movies there`s a chance you might have seen him. They've got a thousand variations, every witness in a file. Janet puts on some coffee and she comes back with a smile. She says, "I hear that South America is coming into style."
A pistol was still smoking, a man lay on the floor. Mister Oswald thought he had an understanding with the law. She`s got rubies on her fingers, Janet turns and looks away. Her mind upon a basement out of the USA. She says, "Let`s talk about the future now we've put the past away."
Before, the show was available solely through bootlegs, this one comes from the recent My Aim Is True reissue.
Elvis Costello & The Attractions: Less Than Zero (Dallas Version)
Back in 1968, David Bowie was struggling to find an audience, lack of album sales for his first record caused his label Deram to drop him. New Musical Express wrote, "A listener strictly accustomed to David Bowie in his assorted '70s guises would probably find this debut album either shocking or else simply quaint."
His manager at the time, Kenneth Pitt, shopped around a rough demo tape that led to a one-album deal with Mercury Records. That's where this early version of Space Oddity is culled from. The familiar version was re-recorded the next year to take advantage of the publicity driven by the Apollo 11 moon landing. I usually prefer barebone demo performances of popular songs, I get a better feel for the tune this way, as with the case of Space Oddity. For fans of the Stylophone, no worries, it's still there in the mix.
David Bowie: Space Oddity - Demo
I have a few more loose ends in the hopper, I'll be bringing them out during the next few weeks to mix in with the theme oriented posts.