Best known for their Northern soul classic "At the Top of the Stairs," the Formations formed in Philadelphia in 1966. Comprised of Victor Drayton, Jerry Akins, Ernie Brooks, Reginald Turner, and Johnny Bellman, the group made its recorded debut as backing vocalists on the Coed label single "Sad Illusion," credited to Margie & the Formations. "At the Top of the Stairs" followed on Bank in 1967 -- written by Akins and soon-to-be-legendary composer/producer Leon Huff, the single boasted almost Baroque flourishes on top of its gorgeous harmonies and driving beat, anticipating the lush, shimmering Philly soul sound Huff and partner Kenny Gamble would perfect in the decade to follow. "At the Top of the Stairs" proved a local smash and was licensed to MGM for national release in 1968 -- it was not a hit, however, although a U.K. re-release in 1970 cracked the British Top 30.
Later in 1968, the Formations recorded two more MGM singles -- "Love's Not Only for the Heart" and "Don't Get Close" -- which followed a similar musical formula and met a similar commercial fate. After three consecutive singles failed at national radio, the group abandoned the Formations name, with the same five original members rechristening themselves the Corner Boys to release 1969's "Gang War (Don't Make No Sense)" on the Neptune label. After another name change, this time to the Silent Majority, the group signed to the Holland-Dozier-Holland production team's Hot Wax label for 1970's "Frightened Girl," followed a year later by "Colors of My Love." After "Good News," a one-off single for the tiny Detroit Star label, the Silent Majority agreed to give it one more go, this time as Hot Ice -- 1972's "Isn't It Lonely" landed the group a contract with Atlantic Records, for which they cut a pair of 1974 singles, "Streakin' and Freakin'" and "Boogie Joogie," before finally dissolving. ~ Jason Ankeny