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‘Show Me’ - Some Record Store Chains Demand ID’s

May 17, 1990

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Teen-age customers of some record store chains now need more than money to buy certain hot LPs. They need ID.

Bowing to pressure from politicians and parents over what they consider objectionable lyrics, some stores have begun to card youngsters.

In some places, no one under 18 can buy products by rap and heavy metal acts that carry a warning label affixed by record companies.

″This stuff is addictive,″ says state Sen. Jean Dixon, a fan of Christian music whose attempt to force record companies to label albums with explicit material failed in committee. ″I had a kid write and tell me he’s addicted to this bad music.″

Whether record companies and retailers agree with her premise or not, some are complying. Among them: Dallas-based Sound Warehouse Inc., which has 137 stores in 14 states, and Streetside Records, which has 19 stores in Missouri and Kansas.

Camelot Music, the No. 2 company in the country, carded minors for several months before going to a money-back guarantee last month for dissatisfied parents.

″We’ve been carding kids for about two months, ever since Jean Dixon started her spiel,″ said Jim Varvaris, manager of a Streetside store in St. Louis County. ″Some of her comments show that she’s kind of hogwash.″

Targets of the measure agree.

″It’s a crock,″ said 17-year-old Matt Lauman of St. Louis, standing outside a Camelot outlet.

″We talk about this stuff in social studies all the time,″ said 14-year- old Megan Engbert of St. Louis. ″It’s not fair.″

The number of albums and tapes that carry warning labels and necessitate carding is small. Varvaris said that of 75 new releases his store received Monday, only two needed stickers.

Profanity and references to suicide, abortion and sex are on Dixon’s hit list.

″I think that’s an excellent move on the part of the retailer,″ said Dixon. ″I’m sure our efforts here had something to do with that. I’m very pleased with that and all parents should be, too - that’s fantastic.″

Four years ago, the Recording Industry Association of America, under pressure from the Parents’ Music Resource Center headed by Tipper Gore, added warning stickers to certain albums. Mrs. Gore is the wife of U.S. Sen. Albert Gore, D-Tenn.

That effort led to a wide variety of warnings, some smaller than a postage stamp, before the industry settled earlier this year on a standardized sticker.

One popular rap album, ″Fear of a Black Planet″ by Public Enemy, is on the restricted list. Both albums by heavy metal act Guns N’ Roses carry warning stickers that say they may contain objectionable material.

Another rap group, 2 Live Crew, attempts to evade the censors with albums titled ″As Nasty As They Wanna Be″ and ″As Clean As They Wanna Be.″ Songs such as ″Me So Horny″ and ″Dirty Nursery Rhymes″ are gone from the G-rated version.

Lawyers for the group have been in court in Broward County, Fla., where sheriff’s deputies had threatened to prosecute store owners if they sell ″As Nasty As They Wanna Be.″

A federal judge earlier this week declined to rule immediately in a lawsuit brought by the group to restore the album to the shelves.

Another rapper, Ice-T, touts his latest album, ″Freedom of Speech ... Just Watch What You Say,″ as X-rated. It carries the warning: ″Some material may be x-tra hype and inappropriate for squares and suckers.″

Minors, adept at skirting the law to purchase alcohol, still are getting their hands on albums by hanging around the parking lot and persuading an adult to buy it for them.

″Actually, it’s kind of funny,″ Varvaris said. ″They’ll come back in and say, ’This is my brother, he’s going to buy the tape for me.‴

Record salesmen also wonder what’s next. Is a ratings board, like that used for movies, inevitable? Will record labeling reach into the past and slap restrictions on albums from the 1960s like ″Blind Faith,″ which has a nude woman on the cover?

″Even the Beatles had explicit lyrics,″ salesman Stu Olson said. ″I mean, where do you draw the line?″

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