The Reels were the first Australian band of any note to emerge from a New South Wales country town.
Dave Mason (son of the then-leader of the NSW Liberal Party), Craig Hooper and John Bliss all came from Dubbo, Ansell was from Melbourne, Newham from Orange and Abrahams was the only Sydney member.
They began life as an outfit called Native Son before moving to Sydney as The Brucelanders. 1978 saw another name change and a recording contract with PolyGram.
Soon after, the band returned to Dubbo with a mobile recording studio and set up for nine days on a farm to record their self-titled debut album.
From this album came two singles which enjoyed minor success – Love Will Find A Way and Prefab Heart, both highlighting The Reels quirky music, reminiscent of early XTC. The accompanying film clips showed a frenzied Mason doing the pogo.
In July 1980, The Reels undertook their ‘Reels By Rail’ national tour, going everywhere by train – including catching suburban trains to their city shows.
The following year they had an unlikely hit with a cover of a 1961 Jim Reeves song called According To My Heart.
The Reels’ 1982 album, Beautiful, was a collection of well known, non-original love songs performed in an easy-listening muzak style.
The album was released on the K-Tel label and received extensive K-Tel style television advertising.
One of their biggest hits came from the album – a faithful rendition of the Burt Bacharach composition, This Guy’s In Love With You.
In October 1987 The Reels undertook the ‘Reels By Request’ tour. At the door of each venue, the patrons were handed a list of songs from the band’s extensive repertoire, and they had to call out the songs they wanted the band to play. The song that got the loudest calls was then played.
Colin ‘Polly’ Newham