Dubbo, a large provincial city in New South Wales, Australia, provided one exception to the rule that most bands in Australia originate from the large state capitals.
Perhaps this helps to explain the Reels, whose musical direction has been erratic, yet never less than brilliant. Based around Dave Mason (vocals) and Craig Hooper (guitar, keyboards and programming) with Colin (Polly) Newham (keyboards, sax), Karen Ansel (keyboards), John Bliss (drums) and Paul Abrahams (bass), the band pioneered the use of computers and tapes.
The band began as a quirky post-punk outfit, achieving notice with the 1979 album ‘The Reels’ and single ‘Prefab Heart’, and musical change soon came with their 1980 synth-pop tinsel ep ‘5 Great Gift Ideas’ leading in to the much lauded second album ‘Quasimodo’s Dream’ – the title song from which is widely considered an Australian classic.
Then in 1982, with a subversive look at MOR, The Reels released the album ‘Beautiful’, alongside dreamy cover ‘This Guy’s In Love’ – the album was intentionally marketed by K-Tel and achieved Gold sales status.
The Reels’ strange, classical, warped version of CCR’s ‘Bad Moon Rising’ saw them charting again in 1986, but sadly the band officially ended in 1992.
Dave Mason released acoustic versions of The Reels songs on ‘Reelsville’ in 2007, and in recent years he and Craig Hooper have been working on a series of EPs celebrating and updating a cherished story of distinctly Australian invention. The idea for these EPs is that they not be replicas of the originals, but collectable records in their own right, with different sounds and different yet linked covers,” says Dave Mason.
“Sometimes it may be subtle, sometimes obvious, but always unique. They’re based a little more on years than actual records,” Dave adds. “The first EP is from 1979, the second 1980, the third will be 1981, and so on … It’s also a chance to add unavailable songs to the digital catalogue.”
Released for Record Store Day 2019, the remastered six-track vinyl and CD EP ‘The Reels’ kicked off this imaginative reissue project, followed by ‘6 Great Gift Ideas’ and soon for release is ‘Comedy’ which has been dedicated to Stephan Fiddock.