The Lemonheads weren’t Pavement. Hell, they were hardly even Sebadoh. Their legacy rests in a few killer cuts and Evan Dando’s surfer-boy, teen-mag good looks – in terms of retrospective cherishment they’re little more than a charming honorable mention. Its hard thinking Hotel Sessions would ever see the light of day without the current ‘90s recrudescence/flogging we’re currently in the midst of. Unearthed and sitting idle for however long, it’s quite literally 14 demos Dando recorded into a walkman in a lonely hotel room sometime in 1993. Call it a rarity or a history project; I call it a meaningless, almost consumer-insulting excursion.
Hey, it might be worth it if these demos had a story behind them, like Springsteen’s Nebraska, or McCartney’s “fixed” version of Let It Be. But frankly, these recordings were never meant to be heard by anyone other than a few executives at Atlantic – they’re unfinished projects, you know, the way demos are supposed to sound. Hell, calling them ‘sessions’ is pretty laughable by itself, this is literally Dando playing a single acoustic guitar using “la-las” to fill in the unwritten lyrics or orchestral flourishes – the average track is a loose idea, barely over two-minutes long, that he himself admits needs more time in the oven. There’s nothing that deserves your attention unless you were being paid to put out the record he’s working on. I mean, it’s hard to even call Hotel Sessions a failure: most of these tunes would eventually be fleshed out in Come On Feel The Lemonheads in mostly memorable results – in that sense the recording did its job perfectly. The fact that someone is trying to cash-in 20 years removed is the sinister part.
Maybe I’m being too harsh. I’m sure there’s some Lemonheads fanatic out there who’s built for this sort of thing, and there is a happenstance loser-charm to hearing the traffic outside bleed into Dando’s measly recording station – but that’s a distant asterisk at best. If Hotel Sessions had a layer of banished songs or the context of label-drama, that would be one thing, but as it stands it’s a very boring, commonplace, and unneeded part of music-biz procedural that never needed the light of day.