‘Hello-A’ was written by a Dutch chap called Hans van Hemert. It was first released by the duo Mouth & MacNeal and would top the charts in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. In South Africa the song was covered by Billy Forrest and Sharon Tandy, two legends of the local music scene. The Mouth And MacNeal version sounds like they could have been backed by Freedom’s Children as there is a dense guitar sound and a heavy beat going on which makes the track lean more towards rock than to pop.
With Sharon Tandy on female vocals, the South African version starts off with a kind of soul sound with shades of Dusty Springfield showing through. Then Billy comes in and moves it into more country territory with his voice and one starts thinking Glen Campbell. Then they combine for the catchy chorus and the harmonies move the song into pop territory. Rock gets a little look in with an occasional electric guitar giving a yelp. This gives rise to the equation ‘35% Soul + 35% Country + 20% Pop + 10% Rock = Hit’ as the song went to number 5 on the Springbok charts.
Undoubtedly there is a 70’s pop feel to the track, but it also has a fresh feel and upbeat rhythm to it. And putting the song into the hands of Billy Forrest, who was the master of bringing international songs to a South African audiences, could only spell success.
Hans van Hemert was a popular song writer for local acts to cover as we saw Springbok Top 20 hits for The Rising Sons (‘How Do You Do’) and Harvest (‘Welcome Home’) as well as ‘Hello-A’ which were written by him. ‘Hello-A’ was greeted with enthusiasm in South Africa, both by Billy and Sharon when they recorded it and by the record buying public when they heard it.
Where to find it:
Various Artists – The Best of SA Pop Volume 1 (1994) GMP, CDGMPD 40485 (CD)