Robert Palmer’s sixth solo album for Island, Clues, made its US chart debut on 11 October, 1980. It was a record with a rockier, new wave feel to what had gone before, as Robert strove to find the formula for solo success that had, if not quite eluded him so far, been in limited supply.
Clues is one of Palmer's strongest and most consistent albums, even if it only runs for 31 minutes. When it came out, preceded a week earlier by the lead single ‘Johnny and Mary,' the public felt so too, and both single and album entered the UK charts on 6 September, before that US debut a month later.
Helping Palmer on the album is the former Free bass player Andy Fraser, who had written Robert’s breakthrough single, ‘Every Kinda People.' He lends his bass playing skills to two tracks, while new wave icon Gary Numan appears on one track, his own composition ‘I Dream Of Wires,’ on which he plays keyboards. Human also wrote ‘Found You Now’ with Palmer, who played percussion on Talking Heads' 'Remain in Light,' while that band's drummer, Chris Frantz, plays drums on 'Clues.'
The second single to be taken from the album, ‘Looking For Clues,’ peaked at No.33 in the UK in December 1980, while ‘Johnny and Mary’ had made No.44 a couple of months earlier. Clues peaked at No. 59 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart and No. 31 in the UK in 1980, the best performing of his LPs to date there. The album also made No. 1 in Sweden, No. 3 in France, No. 15 in the Netherlands and No. 42 in Italy.
Ironically, the video for ‘Looking for Clues’ aired on MTV's first day of broadcasting, on 1 August 1981. The video broadcaster would, of course, go on to help Palmer’s American career in a massive way later in the decade, with 'Addicted To Love' and subsequent hits.