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Quasimodo's Dream

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Customer Reviews

At Last! A True Classic, But Changed..

How fabulous and exciting to have the legendary Reels' album "Quasimodo's Dream" re-released after all these years and in sparkling new remastered sound.
This album has always been one of the true classics of Oz Pop, and its re-release has been eagerly anticipated.
It is difficult to understand now just how remarkable and peculiar this album was when originally released back in 1981. The pop music scene in Australia was vibrant and dynamic, but bands who eschewed the use of guitars and filled up much of their canon with cover versions were not generally accepted as part of the mainstream. It was Reels' frontman Dave Mason whose extraordinary charisma carried the band from one musical controversy to another. Their creative output prior to 1981 gave new meaning to the term "plastic pop", and they were never regarded as "serious".
But with its bleak themes of isolation, abandonment and alienation, "Quasimodo's Dream" introduced a new maturity from the band, with songwriting and performances that made the world sit up and take notice, and showed them to be true innovators.
Strange, then, that this new issue of this iconic Australian album has been released with the songs presented in a completely different running order from the original. And to these ears it doesn't work as well as the original release, and it does tend to spoil the listening experience. Of particular annoyance is the grouping of three short tracks, "Smokey Dawson Show", "Rupert Murdoch" and "Ohira Tour" together as one track called "Media Themes". On the original album, these three tracks were especially effective in their contexting after and between each of the somewhat grim songs on side two of the vinyl version, adding significantly to the dramatic musical and lyrical light and shade that was such a compelling feature of the album.
Another minor quibble: one track "Dubbo Go Go", has been renamed "Dubbo A Go Go" on the new release. Why? Are all these changes deliberate or just sloppy work and disregard for the integrity of the artists and their listeners. Or what? We may never know.
We completists can rearrange the tracks in our iTunes libraries and be happy, so really, we just need to be thankful that we have at last got the genius that is "Quasimodo's Dream".


Arguably the most original Australian music set piece. Quasimodo's Dream has the all the charm and musical devices of a silent movie classic but fully realized by the keening voice of Dave Mason, the sure-footed rhythm of John Boy Bliss and wunderkind arrangement of Polly Newham. That they all sprang from the creative desert of '70s Dubbo NSW makes their music all the more remarkable. From the first confident tom strike this song immediately belonged in the same breath as Heard It Through The Grapevine and Come Together. Then there's Shout & Deliver and For All We Know.... a national treasure.

Occupies a unique place in music

Most people seem to focus on the title track, but that's not the only outstanding thing about this album. Nowadays, it's even clearer that these guys completely occupied their own musical space.

Of particular note is the rhythm section of John Bliss and Paul Abrahams. Their style owes very little to rock music per se and possibly is more aligned to the soul/pop of the 60s. Nevertheless, it doesn't sound remotely dated and sits perfectly here. Although there's not much guitar on this album, but where it appears, it's brilliant. Colourful Clothes in particular, is driven by Craig Hooper's concise, razor-sharp, propulsive guitar work.

Overall the album doesn't sound "retro" in the respect that it doesn't connect very directly with the New Wave of the era. Even though the album is dominated by synthesisers, none of the sounds occupy the sort of cliched territory that dominates much of the early 80s synth era. The synthesiser sounds are clearly crafted by players with imagination and considerable technical skill. Every single track has its own appeal, but for me, the standouts are For All We Know, Colourful Clothes and the (newly combined) media themes.

Now all we need is a re-release of their other material, especially that gloomy, sour masterpiece, Pitt St Farmers.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

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, however brilliant. Based around Dave Mason (vocals) and Colin ‘Polly’ Newman (keyboards/saxophone) with Paul Abrahams (bass), John Bliss (drums) and Craig Hooper (guitar), the band was the first to utilize backing tapes, organize a national tour by train...
Full Bio
Quasimodo's Dream, The Reels
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  • $13.09
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Dance
  • Released: 1981

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