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POP EYE

March 27, 1994|Steve Hochman

ON THE RACK: Don't think you've got a bootleg if you pick up a copy of Nirvana's "In Utero" at Kmart or Wal-Mart and find the song "Rape Me" retitled "Waif Me" on the cover.

The stores, which have long resisted what they consider offensive material, reportedly refused to carry the album unless Geffen Records' DGC label changed the song title. While that has been done, the song itself--which is about media intrusions into privacy, not physical rape--remains unchanged.

But DGC did make some content changes on another of its albums, Beck's "Mellow Gold," electronically blurring some four-letter words.

Robert Smith, Geffen's head of marketing, says that the changes--made only on copies of the albums destined for the stores that won't carry the original versions--do nothing to alter the messages of the artists, and that the compromises are more than compensated for by the access to a wider audience.

These stores, referred to in the trade as rack jobbers , represent about 10% of the music retail business, and many of them are in rural areas that have no other music stores.

"Both Beck and Nirvana as artists are dealing with the anguish of living in the world today, so the spelling of a word or the use of a word doesn't really change that," Smith says. "It's much more important to give kids access to these messages."

"(Nirvana) wants the record in K mart," says Janet Billig of Gold Mountain Management, which handles both Beck and Nirvana. "That's the kind of store where they got records growing up. They didn't have cool record stores in Aberdeen, (Wash.)."

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