My Heart's Desire : The Wheels©2003JCMarion


Joel Leibowitz was an independent record veteran. Back in 1942 he organized the original DeLuxe Records, a pioneering R & B label, in Linden, New Jersey with the Braun brothers. After more than seven years with the label he began Wallis Original Records, and then in 1955 he got back into the rhythm & blues field by forming Premium Records, still in Linden. One of the first acts signed was a local group called The Wheels. One thing that this new group had going for them was a manager that had credentials in the business. This was Allen Bunn, a member of one of the original "bird" groups, The Larks. He also was a singer with the celebrated gospel group The Selah Jubilee Singers. The Wheels first visit to the recording studio produced a future classic with the ballad "My Heart's Desire" and the up tempo flip side "Let's Have A Ball", one of the best ever "throwaway" jump tunes. That however was not the first release for the label. That went to a side recorded with Vicky Nelson singing lead on the songs "By My Side" and "Bright And Early" on Premium #402. The label had hopes for the tune "Angel Child" recorded by The Rockers for the label on #401, but that side never had a chance.

"My Heart's Desire" is released in early 1956 and begins to sell big in the Northeast. Sales in New York City alone are more than fifteen thousand per week which is great for an R & B indie. The group features Rudy Anderson on lead, with Lorenzo Cook on bass, Ken Fox on baritone, and James Pender on tenor. As their tune keeps selling, the group arrives with a week at the Apollo Theater in late July. At about this time The Wheels also sing backup on a recording by Arthur Lake on the songs "May I Count On You" and "The Good Earth" on #406. In August after a good run with their initial record as a featured group, The Wheels are back with a follow up on the tunes "Teasing Heart" and the flip side "Loco" on #408. In October the group is part of a big show at the Apollo in Harlem with the world premier of the film "Rockin' The Blues" and the stage show with Sugar & Spice, Marie Knight, and headlining The Wheels. In the following spring Premium Records released "How Could I Ever Leave You" and "I Can't Forget" on #410, but this side does not have the push of the previous two releases by the group. The last appearance by the group on the Premium ;abel is as backup singers for Gloria Lynn on the tunes "Run For Your Love" and "I Can't Waste My Tears" on #412.

In late 1956 with the death of Joel Leibowitz, the Premium Records label is no more, and the fate of The Wheels is up in the air. It is said that the prior association of Allen Bunn with Bobby Robinson from the old Red Robin days leads to a recording session with Robinson's present label Fury Records. The biggest change was however a change in name for the group. No longer were they The Wheels, but now they are known as The Federals. The first release by the group for Fury Records is with the songs "While Our Hearts Are Young" and "You're The One I Love" on #1005. This resulted in minimal sales and so "Dear Lorraine" and "She's The Girl" was released on Fury #1009 and met the same fate as the previous record. By early 1957, The Federals are now on DeLuxe which was bought out by Syd Nathan and added to King and Federal Records based in Cincinnati, Ohio. The one release for the group on DeLuxe was a cover of The DelVikings "Come Go With Me" and the tune "Cold Cash" on #6112. This also was unsuccessful for the group.

By 1958 the group had reverted back to The Wheels and made one record for a new label headed by Bobby Shad called Time Records. The one release for Time was "Where Were You?" and "So Young And So In Love" on #1003. That year they also recorded one side for the Roulette Records label in New York. That release - "No One But You" and "I've Waited A Lifetime" on #4271. In February of 1959, the group recorded as Rudy & The Wheels for the Curtis label, an obscure label supposedly owned and operated by George Goldner and controlled by Roulette's Morris Levy. The Curtis release - "Copy Cat" and "It's Not For Me" on #751 also sinks without a trace. In December of 1959 The Wheels are recorded for the last time on the Folly label. The song is "Clap Your Hands" and is a two sided tune with parts one and two. Folly #800 is the swan song for The Wheels, a vocal group that started out with so much promise with their first two hits for Premium. "My Heart's Desire" is one of the all time classic vocal group sides of the era, and a song that goes a long way in defining the times. It is a fitting memory of The Wheels.

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