Unlike "As Nasty as They Wanna Be," 2 Live Crew leader Luther Campbell's single "Banned in the U.S.A." is more likely to end up on Top 40 radio than in court. The song, which is being released today, features none of the sexually explicit language that led "Nasty" to be declared obscene June 6 by a U.S. district judge in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Yesterday, three members of 2 Live Crew and a store owner who sold their album were formally charged with obscenity. Band members Campbell, Mark Ross and Chris Wongwon, arrested after a June 10 adults-only concert in Hollywood, Fla., were charged with participating in an obscene performance, a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine, according to the Broward state attorney's office. The Miami Herald reports that there may be problems for the prosecution because, according to defense attorney Allen Jacobi, the videotape of the performance is too garbled to understand.

E-C Records owner Charles Freeman of Fort Lauderdale was formally charged with selling copies of the "As Nasty as They Wanna Be" album after a federal judge ruled it obscene. A record store owner in San Antonio has also been charged with obscenity, though "Nasty" has not been declared obscene in that jurisdiction.

"Banned in the U.S.A." is being rush-released to radio through the three major radio satellite networks, ABC Westwood, Unistar and One/Mutual/NBC/The Source. It's being made available to any station that can receive the satellite signal, not just those affiliated with the networks. The last time there was this kind of hoopla was for the all-star anti-hunger single, "We Are the World."

While radio stations are likely to play "Banned" because of the ongoing controversy, it's doubtful that many fans will want to actually buy it since it features none of the raunch or profanity that has propelled "Nasty's" sales toward the 2 million mark. Maybe Campbell and 2 Live Crew could do a dirty version.

The chorus will at least provide programmers with a Golden Oldies glow: It's derived from the chorus of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A," which apparently irked Jack Thompson, the Florida lawyer who instigated the complaints about 2 Live Crew. On June 19 Thompson sent a letter to Springsteen's manager, Jon Landau, warning that 2 Live Crew might "be about to rip off his song." Thompson suggested that Springsteen "protect 'Born in the U.S.A.' from its apparent theft by a bunch of clowns who traffic toxic waste to kids. If he does not, then I'll be telling the nation about Mr. Springsteen's tacit approval of the above."

Actually, Campbell had sent a letter to Springsteen outlining the idea and lyrics for "Banned," requesting use of the song for "parody purposes." Landau says there are numerous requests to use Springsteen songs and "from time to time, you approve them, based on the merits of the specific proposal." (One such approval involved Cheech Marin's parody, "Born in East L.A."). Speaking for Springsteen, Landau said, "Bruce was comfortable with it. He's aware of Luke's situation, and to the extent that by approving this it helps in the area of free speech and showing support for freedom of expression, that is something Bruce is happy about and feels it's a good thing."

In a follow-up letter on June 26, Thompson sent a mock cover based on "Born in the U.S.A.," suggesting a title for Springsteen's next album: "Raped in the U.S.A."

"Mr. Springsteen, you're now harmful to the women and children who have bought your albums. You're also now a co-conspirator in the production of what Luther Campbell has said is an album that will be 'more obscene' than the last one and whose title cut will be 'Banned in the U.S.A.' Who's giving you legal advice? Luther's lawyers?"

Landau responds, "You can't even start paying attention to these things."

Campbell's Luke Records (Skyywalker Records until a restraining order was instituted as part of a $600 million lawsuit filed against it by George Lucas's Lucasfilms) has just signed a multimillion-dollar production and distribution deal with Atlantic Records. Atlantic President Doug Morris said Monday that "like many Americans, I was shocked to see in the news media those disturbing scenes of a black music artist being arrested and placed in the back of a police car for the 'crime' of performing before an adult audience. Our government should not be censoring what adults can hear, read or watch. The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees that right."

Luke Records will continue to operate from Miami, and Campbell will retain complete creative control. The first release under the agreement is the "Banned" single. The album so anxiously awaited by Jack Thompson will be out in August. That album includes a song titled "{Expletive} Martinez." But according to Jacobi, the band's attorney, the Martinez mentioned repeatedly throughout the song is not to be confused with Florida Gov. Bob Martinez. Jacobi has claimed that the Martinez in question is Frank Martinez, a friend of Jacobi's. Martinez the governor helped spark the controversy that led to the banning of "As Nasty as They Wanna Be" last month.

(On Monday Martinez signed into law a bill under which playing loud music on a car stereo could bring a $32 fine. Florida is home to the thumping Miami Bass Sound -- and car stereo systems that can be heard from a great distance. Drivers can be ticketed for playing car stereos that are "plainly audible" from at least 100 feet away, according to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Standards; the department will establish regulations on how police will measure the sound. Motorists also could get ticketed if their stereos are "louder than necessary for the convenient hearing by persons inside the vehicle" when near a hospital, school or church. The bill exempts law enforcement and business vehicles and those blaring political messages via loudspeaker.)

Meanwhile, a San Antonio record store owner faces a possible fine of $2,000 and a year in jail for selling "As Nasty as They Wanna Be." Last Thursday the San Antonio Police Department vice squad lodged a misdemeanor charge of promoting obscenity against Hogwild Records store owner David Risher for selling the album to two members of a local anti-pornography group.

Teresa Weaver, president of San Antonio Citizens Against Pornography, made the initial complaint about the album to the vice squad last month. Risher has continued selling the album to any customer who can prove he or she is 18 or older. Only a half-dozen copies of the album were sold in the first five months of 1990, but more than 400 copies were sold after the first vice squad visit June 12, according to Risher. Risher will not be arrested but will have to enter a plea July 24 and could receive a September or October court date.

The album has not yet been found obscene in San Antonio or any other Texas jurisdiction, but last month, Risher and other record store owners in the city were visited by the police and told "Nasty" might be in violation of Texas obscenity statutes and that clerks were liable to be arrested for selling it. Store owners were asked to sign a statement that said, in part, "I was visited by vice officers of the San Antonio Police Department and informed of the OBSCENE lyrics" of certain songs on the album. Risher points out that Florida's Judge Jose Gonzalez, who issued the June 6 ruling, spent a third of his 62-page ruling admonishing the Broward County Sherriff's Department for "improper prior restraint of free speech in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution."

"Banned in the U.S.A." isn't great record-making, but an opportunistic and self-serving response to the controversy that has grown up around 2 Live Crew. The rapping by Fresh Kid-Ice and Brother Marquis is flat and uninspired, and a brief speech by Luther Campbell simply rehashes the First Amendment arguments in less than compelling terms. Ironically, it appeals to the mind and the intellect not to dirty thoughts and the loins.

"Banned" benefits from a catchy chorus adapted from Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." -- more on this later -- as it addresses the controversy in mild terms. It is spiced by snippets of the Constitution, patriotic melodies (including "The Star-Spangled Banner") and sound bites from television interviews by Campbell in the wake of his arrest.

Campbell maintains he is a victim of racism and political opportunists, and "Banned in the U.S.A." expresses anger about the failure of the First Amendment to protect 2 Live Crew from prosecution:

"We got white collar people trying to cramp our style

"saying we're too nasty and we're too loud

"Corrupted politicians playing games bring us down to boost their fame... ."

And later:

"The First Amendment gave us freedom of speech

"So what you saying, it didn't include me

"I like to party and have a good time

"There's nothing but pleasure written in our rhyme... .

"Black folks wisen up 'cause on election day, you'll be banned in the U.S.A."