NELSON’s debut album, After the Rain, was released on Geffen’s DGC label on June 26, 1990, and within three months, its first single, “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love & Affection,” went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 29, 1990. That was one of four separate hit singles to emerge from the record, with the title track hitting #6, “More Than Ever” peaking at #14 and “Only time Will Tell” hitting #28. The album went on to achieve double-platinum status from the RIAA, selling more than three million copies in the U.S. and another two million overseas.
After the Rain will be released on 180g vinyl and has been remastered by Grammy-winning engineer Evren Goknar (Tom Petty, Red Hot Chili Peppers) at Capitol’s famed Hollywood recording studios. The album will be available on September 29 online, at the band’s website (T/K), and at retail stores as a limited-edition collector’s item on veteran promo exec Joe Reagoso’s audiophile vinyl reissue label, Friday Music. The package will include expanded liner notes and the Nelsons’ comments on each track, and the first 1000 pre-orders will also receive an autographed NELSON photo.
For brothers Gunnar and Matthew, the vinyl release of After the Rain makes up for years of frustration at the sound of the original album.
“It was a real gift when we got that phone call about remastering. For the first time, we got to hear the album the way we first did on those big monitors at Cherokee Studios, where we recorded it,” says Gunnar. “This is how it’s supposed to sound.”
The original After the Rain album was the result of the Nelsons putting in almost two years of work on recording demos. Matthew Nelson explains that, “After years of failed collaborations and rejections by labels in LA and New York we aimed at re-focusing on songwriting and targeting A&R legend John Kalodner and Geffen Records to help. Kalodner put us through two years of writing and demos, but still didn’t sign us. Five years after the untimely death of our father, Ricky Nelson, we were at the end of our rope. Living out of our car and down to our last $16 in a joint savings account.” As Matthew recalls, “Our managers didn’t want us to do it, but we just walked into Kalodner’s office and played him the song [Love and Affection]. Kalodner responded by saying, ‘THAT is what I have been waiting for. That you two have the nerve to do what ever it takes to get the top – even if it means overriding your team, including me, to get there.'”
The album itself found the band going through several producers, before they hooked up with a down-on-his-luck singer/songwriter named Marc Tanner, who proved to be, in Gunnar’s words, “the third Nelson brother.” With Kalodner finally agreeing to let the group use many of their original demos as the basis of the record, the brothers enlisted their exceptional live band to record on the album with them, which included guitarist Brett Garsed, keyboardist Paul Mirkovich, drummer Bobby Rock and multi-instrumentalist Joey Cathcart.
Thanks to a week-long stint hosting the call-in show Dial MTV, NELSON’s video for “Love and Affection” went to #1, the album selling out its 50,000 copy run in the first two hours. The album’s ultimate success was in no small part due to the brothers’ tireless promotion, busking in the elevators for captive audiences at radio conventions or playing live acoustic sets at local stations when that was frowned upon.
“We never had a blues background,” explained Gunnar. “We came from the school of Linda Ronstadt, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Eagles.”
Indeed, as Gunnar points out, “We didn’t sound like anything else that was out at the time. It was probably the first song since ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ that went to #1 on pop radio featuring a 12-string guitar.”
By the time NELSON got around to releasing its follow-up, Because They Can, in 1995, “Living on a Prayer” had long since been replaced by “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Even poking fun at themselves on the album cover with the William Wegman-photographed Man Ray dogs sporting long blonde tresses couldn’t rescue them from major label purgatory.
“We’ve always been treated like guilty-until-proven innocent,” says Gunnar. “This record didn’t break out just because it sounded great, or just because it was different- it’s so much more than that. This record represented hope, positivity, and personal empowerment to an entire generation of the disenfranchised, and the timeless message has continued to resonate with generations since.”
Now the father of a three-year-old named after his grandfather Ozzie Nelson, Matthew appreciates the rebirth of he and Gunnar’s original baby, After the Rain.
“I can’t wait to sit my kid next to the turntable and have him hear it,” says Matthew. “It’s one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of.”
“Everything we had to go through, and what this album has meant to us, has motivated and allowed us to still do what we love to do for a living for 27 years. It was such a pivotal point in our lives. I feel remarkably blessed and thankful that it’s coming out now. My vision is to do a tour where we perform the entire album start to finish with the original band.
“Don’t be afraid to lose what was never meant to be…” -NELSON, “After The Rain”
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.