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Good Golly, It's Wally George, Singer

September 25, 1986|RANDY LEWIS | Times Staff Writer

You say you've heard about the new "American music," but you're turned off by rock stars who look scruffy (Mellencamp), sound like bleeding-heart liberals (Springsteen), or both (Tom Petty)?

Fret no more. There's finally a singer for real Americans--Wally George. That's right, the ultra-conservative host of television's cartoonish "Hot Seat" talk show has recorded a rock album and is mounting an assault on the rock world.

The idea of "Wally George, rock star" sounds as incongruous as "David Lee Roth, choir boy." Nevertheless, there he was in his red, white and blue "Wally suit" making his rock 'n' roll debut Tuesday night at the Palomino before a crowd of hooting "Hot Seat" fans.

Backed by the Sound Waves, a youthful sextet from Corona, George offered an hourlong all-American set that included Glenn Frey's "It's Better in the U.S.A.," Leiber & Stoller's "Kansas City" and the Beach Boys' "Surfin U.S.A." Heck, the only thing missing was "Born in the U.S.A.," although Springsteen's anthem reportedly will be on the album, due in October.

As for Wally's voice, he can at least carry a tune--though he'd be wise always to use both hands for the task. And his range, phrasing and expressiveness are every bit the equal of George Putnam or any other TV commentator who comes to mind.

Near the end of the show, Wally remarked, "I think I deserve at least a mediocre review, don't I?"

Relax, Wally, you got it.

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