The Reels – Quasimodo’s DreamMark Dohmann
|Label:||Mercury – 6437 139|
|Format:||Vinyl, LP, Album|
|Style:||New Wave, Synth-pop|
“The Wiggles meets Devo”
Lads from Dubbo NSW the Reels were undeniably one Australia’s great live acts. One wag likened them to the Wiggles meets Devo but they had a similar double edge to lyrics with great pop melodies. The genesis of The Reels was a band called Native Sons, consisting of John Bliss on drums, Craig Hooper on lead guitar and synthesiser, and Dave Mason on vocals, formed in the country town of Dubbo, New South Wales in 1976.
Native Sons played in the Dubbo/Orange/Newcastle area for two years, playing cover versions & original songs. After moving to Sydney in 1978, the band added Paul Abrahams on bass guitar and changed their name to The Brucelanders. They developed an original repertoire of fast-paced, quirky pop and ska, and their energetic performances gained them a following on the east coast live music scene. They were given support in Sydney by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) rock radio station Double J, which moved to the FM band in 1980 and became Triple J.
By 1979, The Brucelanders had secured a recording contract with the Australian branch of Mercury Records and changed their name to The Reels, with the line-up of Abrahams, Bliss, Hooper, Mason and Newham. They released their debut single, “Love Will Find a Way” in October, which peaked into the top 40 of the Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart. Their self-titled debut album, The Reels, produced by Mark Opitz (The Angels, Cold Chisel) had appeared in November. With the follow-up single, “Prefab Heart” also appearing in November, combined with the band’s distinctive image, they gained increasing attention with their music videos featured on the influential national ABC TV pop show Countdown from early 1980.
In July 1980, The Reels added a sixth member, also a synthesiser player, Karen Ansel, a former member of local Melbourne group, The Romantics. This new line-up released their third single, “After the News”. It marked a transition in their music — they dispensed with guitars, using synthesisers as their main instruments and were one of the first groups to use headsets instead of traditional microphones.
During late July, the group undertook the innovative Reels By Rail Tour, using rail transport to destinations in the eastern states. At the end of the year, returning to their origins as a covers band, they released a five-track Christmas EP, Five Great Gift Ideas from The Reels, produced by Bruce Brown and Russell Dunlop, which included Jim Reeves’ “According to My Heart”, and Freda Payne’s “Band of Gold”.
“According to My Heart” was accompanied by a folksy music video filmed at a farm in New Zealand. The EP did, however, have one original, “The Bombs Dropped on Xmas”, co-written by Mason, Newham, Ansel & Shalvey. Later that year their fourth single, “After The News”, as a teaser for their upcoming second album.
Quasimodo’s Dream is the second album by Australian group The Reels, released in May 1981 by Polygram Records. It is considered to be the band’s best work and contains the iconic title track, which was voted as number 10 on APRA’s list of Top 30 Australian songs.
Other singles from the album include “After the News” and “Shout and Deliver”. The song “According to My Heart”, a cover of the 1961 Jim Reeves song had been included on the album against the wishes of the band, as a result of this, there was a sticker on the inner sleeve that said “Due to Record Company Pressure This Album Contains The Hit Single According To My Heart”.
The title track has a deeper meaning which can be explained best by Dave Mason on his recent RockWiz appearance.
Anyone who has experienced growing up in non-existentialist circumstances or lived in remote areas with an artistic or creative vision that wasn’t able to fit the norms will identify with Mason’s words.
This is the album version.
Mason was an early Australian adopter of the Fairlight CMI magic (an Aussie invention of Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie) and the highly entertaining recording of how the Fairlight CMI broke into the international music scene.
In October 2011, the album was finally reissued on CD by Liberation Records in what was the 30th anniversary of its release. This had a different track listing and combined the three “Media Themes” instrumentals into one track. It’s a great pop record to own and highlights an era of creativity in Australia that was able to impress globally. Good times!
A1 For All We Know
A2 Quasimodo’s Dream
A3 According To My Heart
A4 After The News
A5 Colorful Clothes
A6 Shout And Deliver
B1 Dubbo Go Go
B2 Smokey Dawson Show
B4 Rupert Murdoch
B5 Kitchen Man
B6 Ohira Tour