Several school systems in the Midwest have told their bus drivers not to listen to heavy metal on the radio or on tapes while children are on their buses (though country music is okay). And a ban also may be in the works in the Soviet Union, where an article in the newspaper Sovetskya Rossia blames heavy metal, one of the more popular western vices among young Russians, for decreasing workers' productivity by as much as 50 percent and affecting classroom performance. A night of noise, says the newspaper, could result in a drop in memory, a diminished attention span and reading speed, even as "stubbornness and aggressiveness increase."

According to Billboard, the report says that "the wilder the music, the lower is the level of the young people's working ability. Heavy metal listeners are affected by the psychophysiological mechanisms of addiction." The report alluded to a series of lab tests on fans, concluding that many could not go "cold turkey" for more than two days: "If they are isolated from such music for a week, the general level of health declines. They become more irritable, their hands start to tremble, and their pulse becomes irregular." Another "scientific" evaluation holds that heavy metal "diminishes the activities of the right half of the brain, which leads to a decline in creative abilities and productive thinking."

Meanwhile, a Russian-made documentary on youth, "Is It Hard to Be Young?," is reported by England's Face magazine to be the rage of Moscow. With only one print, it's still screening in four theaters, with each reel being shuttled between theaters. Apparently, no parameters were imposed on director Juris Podniek's film beforehand and apparently no cuts were requested before its release. Podniek, who has written for Rolling Stone and who calls the film "a search for truthfulness," examines the current and at times extreme generation gap from a detached point of view. "Parents look at the film to experience something about their children," he says. "Young people burst into tears because they recognize themselves, like the courtroom scene where a punk is sent to a labor camp for rowdiness in the metro. My aim was to ensure that everyone is understood without passing a verdict on anyone." Audiences, young and old alike, have been staying behind after screenings to discuss the film.

More Beatles Notes Capitol has done a turnaround: On July 21, it will release in this country the British configurations of the first eight Beatles albums on vinyl and cassette. Originally, they were going to be available only in the CD format, but a Capitol spokesperson says consumer reaction caused the label to reconsider its original marketing plan (Read: Capitol realized there were still big bucks to be made from the owners of 90 million turntables and 120 million cassette players). The American versions, some of them significantly different, will continue to be available on vinyl and tape, but will not come out on CD. The current "Sgt. Pepper" will be discontinued, making way for the new version, digitally remastered for CD. And, just to keep those arguments alive among hard-core fans, the first four British albums will be released in the mono mixes used on the CDs. Whether they are ever released in the stereo versions preferred by many fans (the albums were released in both mono and stereo) is up to Capitol's marketing division ...

When Eric Clapton called "a couple of old friends" out onto the stage at the recent Prince's Trust concert in London, those friends turned out to be George Harrison and Ringo Starr. It was the first time two ex-Beatles had appeared together publicly since the Concert for Bangladesh in 1973. They performed "Here Comes the Sun" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," as well as a finale that included "With a Little Help From My Friends" and "Stand by Me." The concert was filmed and will be shown in the fall on HBO ...

For avid Beatles fans, there is a wonderful magazine called, oddly enough, Beatlefan. Published six times a year, the magazine is authoritative and inclusive, both looking back with great detail at the group's storied past and offering around-the-world updates on anything having to do with former Beatles, members of their entourage, records, books and so on. The current issue is part of a two-issue focus on "Sgt. Pepper." Beatlefan is available for $11 a year from Goody Press, Box 33515, Decatur, Ga. 30033 ...

Jazz & Home Taping Twenty major jazz artists from Blue Note and Manhattan Records, including Dexter Gordon, Stanley Turrentine, Bobby McFerrin and McCoy Tyner, have signed a letter attacking unauthorized home taping that will be included in all new releases on those labels. It says in part: "{Home taping} has put a sizable dent in our incomes, is jeopardizing our recording and live appearance careers and is already causing record companies to limit the number of new artists and new albums they invest in and promote" ...