Day 105: Looks Like Rain, 4/11/72

Grateful Dead Europe 72 Newcastle 4/11/72 album cover artwork

I will admit that Looks Like Rain isn’t one of my favorite songs and it takes something special for me to notice and single out a version. This is one of those times.

I cut my teeth on the Without A Net version. The thing I like about that version is how Jerry makes his guitar runs actually sound like falling rain. I have no idea what the technique is but it’s one of the coolest aspects about latter day versions.

This version, however, is special for another reason. Jerry actually brought his pedal steel guitar on the Europe 72 tour and played it on Looks Like Rain twice early in the tour before abandoning it. This is one of those versions. The pedal steel gives the song a very different feel. I believe this is the last use of pedal steel on the tour and perhaps Jerry’s last ever in concert, at least with the Grateful Dead. I can’t speak to his wide range of solo projects.

Jerry’s pedal steel welcomes listeners like a well-worn glove. It adds an entirely new feel to the song. The lack of a second standard guitar leaves a lot of space in the arrangement, but the laconic swells of the pedal steel and Phil’s bass playing help to fill these gaps.

The solo here comes from the pedal steel and really gives us something different. Phil takes the opportunity to step out as well, and what we’re treated to, in essence, is a dual solo passage between these two musical heavyweights. It’s really a great musical section. Keith finally starts to exert himself a bit more in the next chorus and adds some crystalline piano, which beautifully complements the pedal steel sound. The song ends with a slight build up that receives noteworthy contributions from Jerry and Keith. A true gem.

Complete Setlist 4/11/72

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  1. Lunch,
    Thanks for the history of the steel guitar on this one. Like you, I love Looks like. But man I don’t have this Europe 72 and thanks to you probably get it soon. Have about 1/2 the Europes and want them all. Still have 3 that are still in the wrapper, so waiting to dip again might be a little down the road.
    This release does have Comes a Time which always excites me. Did check Wiki site to see if Looks like was played on the steppin out release that I do have. Unfortunately Wiki says there is a looks like, but Steppin not the case. Wondering if you might know of the other steel G versions from Europe. More importantly, how do you rate the top shows from Europe 72. Not in any order, but more what are some of your favs.
    Thanks as always

  2. Joe,

    It’s only one man’s opinion, but my favorite E72 shows are 4/14, 4/17, 5/3, 5/4, 5/16, and the entire London run at the end, 5/23-26. I was also listening to 5/7 in the last week or so and was really blown away by the second half of the show.

    Comes A Time was only played a few times on the tour and the best version is on Steppin’ Out, which is also on the 5/25/72 show. It opens up disc 4.

    As for the LLRs on the tour, the first two had pedal steel on them, 4/8, and this one, 4/11. The only other version on the tour is at the 4/14 show, but there’s no pedal steel. I’m fairly confident that this was the last time Jerry played that instrument on stage with the Dead.

    The LLR on DP30 has the pedal steel too, I believe, which makes sense because those shows were essentially the primer for the Europe tour.

    Hopefully this answers your questions!

  3. They decide to give this another try. Jerry is on steel again. Bob sings this version more softly than I have ever heard him sing. Maybe it works better this way. The tempo slows suddenly, and I think I hear Garcia yelling “slow down” just before this happens. This has a bad effect on the groove (as it often does when tempo shifts are randomly applied.) The pedal steel solo is a bit more coherent than the one the night before. The soft application of the lyrics continues. Who is harmonizing? I guess it’s Phil, oddly. For a song I really don’t like, this is an interesting version because of all the struggles trying to shape it into something the band could live with. They only played it once more on this tour and only one time after that in 1972. It came back with a vengeance in 1973.

  4. Originally, I wanted to chime in to say that while I like this song and it’s usually well played, I’m with Lunchbox in that it’s not one of my favorites…except for those beautiful post hiatus versions with Donna Jean. For some reason the ’76 versions really do it for me.

    After reading this post and the comments, I was inspired to put on 4-8-72 for my “serious” weekend listening. Hadn’t heard it in awhile–what an incredible show. It’s the only Europe ’72 show I have (not including Rockin the Rein and Hundred Year Hall). Was planning to acquire many of those as time went on but the large number of “must have” releases last year made that financially difficult. I’m almost hoping the next official box is early 80s so I can spend my money on more Europe ’72.

  5. Jerry *did* end up playing pedal steel again, when the Dead backed up Dylan in 1987. He featured the steel on “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” three times…I saw the first breakout at JFK on 7-10-87. Definitely a live show high point for me!

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