Adrian Gale, Attraction, Tour De Force,
Smilek, Radar, Funny Money, Stone Angel
Ardsley, NY

I was first introduced to Kivel Records after buying both Funny Money discs. Singer Steve Whiteman (Kix) and I were on the phone and he told me about this guy who was putting out these great bands from the East Coast. Our next encounter was out in Las Vegas at Ultrasound 2000. Jon Kivel had a booth set up with Stone Angel and Radar cranked on the stereo. I was knocked out by what I heard. Here was a company who knew about rock, packaged it with class and went to extraordinary lengths to capture public interest.

“All the bands I have signed to my label are either bands I’m friends with, jam with, or have a great reputation,” states John when we finally sit down and chat. “I started out as a freelance photographer and have photographed just about any band you can think of. So I got to know a lot of bands. I had their old demos; I’d see them around. I only live a half an hour from New York City so it was never a matter of showcasing. Now, I get press kits from all over the world – New Zealand, Russia, Sweden, Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands – you name a country and I’ve got a press kit from there. Some are good and others are really bad. But hey, at least they’re out their trying.”

Kivel started his label out of his home in 1997. Funny Money was his first major signing followed by Attraction, Stone Angel and Radar. “I’m a fan of this music so I recognize the talent when I hear it,” says Kivel. “I’d rather put out a band like Stone Angel than Mike Tramp remembering White Lion. I’d rather hear something new and fresh and has something to add to the genre. I think our audience is the same.”

All of Kivel’s bands do have a similar flair. They are all chock-full of big hooks, ringing harmonies and crystal clear production. “I’ve been blessed with killer bands who have killer lead singers,” says Kivel. “The bands I’m drawn to have a large sound, big guitars, big thump, and a big vocal. Some call it AOR or Melodic Hard Rock and it is. It’s a sound that has been missing since the Grunge days. But there are still fans and my bands prove it. I have not lost money on any of my acts. In fact, they are all doing very well.”

That said, it’s time to check out a number of Kivel’s trained stallions.Arian Gale fronted by Guardian front man Jamie Rowe is a powerhouse record and along with Smilek could very well put Kivel into the majors. It makes no apologies for it’s 80’s beef sound, just simply goes for the throat with breathtaking perfection. Smilek are a killer live band. An astute understudy of the Winger-White Lion right, they come up pedal-to-the-metal and ready to roar…and the artwork is gorgeous.

Tour De Force Unreleased is the band ‘best of’ demos and rarities. Another brilliant package with a cluster of generous heavies from this originally signed Long Island champion. From Stand Up to On The Edge the CD is a Phd. in melodic hard rock. Radar houses it’s fame in the vocal dexterity of the lovely Pamela Moore. Her claim to fame was lending her vocal as Sister Mary on Queensryche’sOperation Mindcrime. Evidently the band was in hibernation until Kivel came knocking and warmed their ten track to a white-hot AOR top ten. I can’t stop listening to it. Very Headpins in spots.

Funny Money are your typical foot stompers. Fronted by stadium veteran Steve Whiteman they pick right up where Kix left off. Riff heavy, well written and demons on a long stretch of highway. Both Funny Money records are on Kivel, the self-titled and Back Again. Kudos to Kivel for caring enough to map out a future for a genre which died far too early and well deserving of a second shot at world domination.