Wednesday, September 07, 2016
How Do You Do? The Story of Mouth and MacNeal
Posted By Pam On Wednesday, September 07, 2016
Seals and Crofts. Hall and Oates. Captain and Tennille. The seventies gave us lots of musical duos that scored many chart toppers during the decade. One lesser known act -- mostly due to the fact that they were from the Netherlands -- was Mouth & MacNeal, best known here in the States for their international early '70s hit "How Do You Do".
Now, my last blog post was about my least favorite seventies songs, and I know at least one Go Retro reader that absolutely loathes "How Do You Do". I understand why -- it's pretty repetitive and seems to go on way longer then it should. But something a little surprising that I recently discovered about Mouth & MacNeal is that they actually made a lot of good music. We just didn't know about it in the U.S. because these songs were only hits in Europe. So if "How Do You Do" has the irritation-level equivalent of Kelly Ripa's voice in your ears, you may want to check out some of their other songs I'm including in this post.
(By the way, I absolutely love "How Do You Do". Not only is it catchy to me, but I love that it's such an upbeat, positive song -- about a couple that is reconciling after some time of being broken up, "starting anew", forgetting the past and that they made each other cry. It's a nice aural antithesis to the multitude of sappy, depressing songs that the decade is known for.)
At first glance, the burly man and cute blonde woman known as Mouth & MacNeal looked like Jerry Garcia teamed up with Agnetha Fältskog of ABBA. Their real names were Willem Duyn, who went by the stage name Big Mouth, and Sjoukje van't Spijker, who adopted the moniker Maggie MacNeal. Big Mouth had some musical experience under his belt; he had sung for many bands in the '60s including one called Speedway. Spijker aka MacNeal had released just one solo single prior to meeting Mouth, a cover of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine."
In 1971, Dutch record producer Hans van Hemert brought together Mouth and Spijker to form the pop duo Mouth & MacNeal. I couldn't find any background info as to what inspired Hemert to introduce them, but he must have had a hunch that they would harmonize and work well together.
"Hey You Love" was the act's first single. It did fairly well on the Dutch music charts, reaching number five. As you can see from the music video, Mouth loves to eat.
Along with a Dutch composer named Harry von Hoof, Hemert wrote the single "How Do You Do" and had Mouth & MacNeal record it. It was a huge worldwide hit, reaching the number one spot in the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, and New Zealand, as well as the top ten in Germany, the UK and the U.S. A disc jockey named Jim Connors was responsible for giving the song airplay to American stations and helping it chart here. They sold over a million copies of the record in the U.S. alone.
Here's the duo performing their huge hit on what I believe is a European music TV show...they and the audience sure look like they having a great time, don't they? Stoned? Perhaps...or maybe they were just really enjoying themselves!
As far as I know, there was no drama, ego, or fights that affected the couple -- something virtually unheard of in the entertainment industry.
"Hello-A" was another hit for them and rather ABBA-esque.
I also found this track called "Sing Along":
In 1974 Mouth & MacNeal entered the Eurovision Song Contest with the entry "I See A Star". Previous Dutch entries in the famed European contest had always been sung in Dutch; this was the first time the country's entry was sung entirely in English. If you know your European pop music history then you probably know that Mouth & MacNeal had tough competition that year: ABBA took the top prize with "Waterloo." "I See A Star" came in at a respectable third place.
After the success of "I See A Star", Mouth & MacNeal went separate ways. Mouth was pursuing a solo career and eventually recorded duets with his wife as Mouth and Little Eve. The songs are listenable -- and again, very reminiscent of ABBA -- but they didn't gain the same notoriety as Mouth & MacNeal. Mouth passed away of a heart attack at age 67 in 2004. MacNeal is still going strong, and has remained in the music industry as well as acting. She even participated in the 1980 Eurovision contest with the song "Amsterdam."
MacNeal tried to revive Mouth & MacNeal in 2008 with another male singer replacing Mouth but of course, it didn't work. Only the seventies decade could have created a duo like Mouth & MacNeal. But fortunately, we don't have to be living in the '70s to appreciate their complimentary vocals and music.