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Master Plan Inc Interview

Posted

Hi. Today I did my first interview of 2011 -- I interviewed a singer named Doug Shorts. Doug grew up on the north side of Chicago near Cabrini Green. He started singing in High School with a group called the Mannequins. The Mannequins performed in singing competitions with other north side groups such as the Admirations and the Cascades. The group also included band members who played instruments, making them a self-contained unit.

The Mannequins went to small local label International Records and recorded four tracks (written by Doug); however, they were unsatisfied with the contract offered to them and the tracks were never released. One of the members of the band was cousins with Bernard Reed of the Pieces of Peace; Reed got the Mannequins an audition for Brunswick records. At the label, Major Lance heard the songs and said he wanted to record them. Doug signed his songs to Carl Davis' publishing with the hopes of benefitting from Lance's recordings. Unfortunately the tracks were shelved and Lance never recorded them.

While at Brunswick, Doug met Kansas City group the Visitors (who released their hit "Until you came along" on the label). The Visitors' lead singer Eugene Smiley had just left the group to go back to KC; they recruited Doug as his replacement. Doug quit the Mannequins and school to go on tour with the Visitors. The group went to Kansas City but ran out of money and Doug was forced to return to Chicago.

Back in Chicago, Doug quit the Visitors and joined a group, Crystal Image, composed of former members of the Mannequins. Crystal Image performed at local clubs and toured the Chitlin circuit. Eventually the group evolved into the Master Plan Inc who also did shows around the city. The Master Plan toured and performed at local clubs.

The Master Plan broke up for a couple of years around '77 but reformed in the late 70s. Around 1979, the band recorded four tracks at Brunswick records. At the same time, Doug was negotiating with Motown who also expressed interest in signing the Masterplan. Ultimately, no contract was signed with either company and the tracks remained unreleased. However, the band rerecorded new versions of two of the tracks at a local studio. "Something to be done" / "You" was released as a single by the Master Plan Inc. on the local Mundo label (which was started by the father of one of the band members). However, Doug found that they did not have the budget to promote and distribute the record and nothing happened with it.

The group broke up soon after the single was released and Doug moved to Los Angeles. Doug continued to make music as a hobby. Doug moved back to Chicago in the 2000s and continues to record in his home studio.

In addition to Doug's story, the interview also includes audio of many excellent unreleased recordings. You can check it out at:

http://www.sittinginthepark.com/interviews/masterplan-5-1-2011.mp3

thanks for your interest,

Bob

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Posted

Great interview, I have been after a copy of 'Something to be Done' but have had no luck so far, please let me know if you hear of a copy becoming available.

I now need to get that 'Where is the Faith' track as well.

Many thanks

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Posted

Great interview, I have been after a copy of 'Something to be Done' but have had no luck so far, please let me know if you hear of a copy becoming available.

I now need to get that 'Where is the Faith' track as well.

Many thanks

Doug didn't have copies of it, very tough record.

Some of the really nice unreleased tracks are going to come out on daptone soon, people should snatch them up because they're excellent.

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Posted

I had a copy of 'something to be done' but sold it back to the States. I could look up the new owner if you wanted?

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Posted

Thanks for the info Bob, I will keep an eye out for the forthcoming material on daptone.

Thanks for the offer MF, I don't like hounding people for records but I guess there is no harm in asking in case he is also a regular seller.

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