Hailing from the sun-pummeled desert of Phoenix, Arizona, Kennelmus was a local rock band who were notable for belting out an unlikely--and pretty tweaked--combination of psychedelic and surf, and for operating in the same time (the late 1960s and early '70s) and place as the original Alice Cooper group. While the Coopers, of course, went on to worldwide fame and fortune with a clever songbook that alternated between teen angst and the macabre, and a pioneering violent theatrical stage show featuring Alice's death sentence carried out nightly on the gallows and guillotine, Kennelmus were content to slog it out in the regional trenches, gigging just for fun, a little money...and girls' phone numbers. Starting out playing British invasion top 40 covers as the Shi-Reeves, the band quickly grew tired of that schtick and decided the time was ripe for a little creativity. So, they renamed themselves Kennelmus after bandleader Ken Walker's real name, and wrote a rock opera of sorts called Folkstone Prism loosely based on the band's life story.
Originally released in 1971 in a limited-edition of 1000 copies--some of which were sold, and others "given away for sexual favors"--Folkstone Prism was finally unearthed from the slag heap of obscurity via a CD reissue three decades later in 1999. Just one listen reveals a band that was eager to ladle a virtual buffet of sounds into your hungry ears. From upbeat instrumental surf with heavily reverbed and keening lead guitar to melancholy and mellow songs with odd guitar stabs and exotic-sounding zither to all-out rocking sections full of hard fuzz riffs to free-form, floaty realms featuring flitting sound effects and tape static, vocal speech samples and all kinds of backward guitar wash. On one song, they even shouted some dorky, proto-DEVO vocals over a bed of stuttering, quirky rock, and composed a "setting" for Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven on another. As far as little-known psych gems go, Kennelmus' Folkstone Prism is one of the better examples and comes highly reccomended for fans of this genre.
Public Impact: Since Kennelmus' lifetime was so brief and geographically-challenged, the band didn't make much of a dent outside of Arizona until their album was reissued worldwide at the turn of the 21st century to the acclaim of the huddled "masses" in psych collecting circles.