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More Videos of “Looking for Clues” Than You Were Looking For (5 January 2017)

January 5, 2017

Today in the car, I heard Robert Palmer’s “Looking for Clues” on the radio, and I don’t remember hearing it before. I’m familiar with Palmer’s radio hits in the mid-80s, and I went through a period where I played the self-titled Power Station album a ton, but I honestly haven’t spent a lot of time with his catalog, and I’m sure I’d love it. 
This was going to be a post about how I loved this song, and I was going to do my best to avoid comparing it to the Talking Heads until I realized that the Clues album came out the same year as Remain in Light (an album on which Palmer plays percussion) and features Talking Heads’ Chris Franz on bass drum, so why fight it? The marimba / xylophone solo is excellent as well, and if I’m reading the liner notes right, is played by Palmer as well. It fits in well with the tense funk in the rest of the track. 

What I wasn’t prepared for was the collection of videos made for the song (not to mention two fairly solid live performances – one played at top speed, one performed later in Palmer’s career). There’s at least three distinct videos, so I present my initial ranking of these clips.

3. Palmer romping in front of a green screen, reminiscent of the Toni Basil directed video for “Once in a Lifetime” (and her own “Mickey,” I guess). “Looking for Clues” was one of the videos played on MTV’s launch day, and I’m assuming this was the version.

2. Palmer, guitar in tow, sings in a forest of ladders. I assumed this was for something like Top of the Pops, but then I found the TOTP performance, so it went back in the list. [Edit right before posting: further digging has this clip appearing on the show TopPop, but it stays anyway.)

1. Palmer, in his signature dapper look, walks through a creepy hallway filled with costumed people. I appreciate that, when compared with the odd shot of Palmer’s mouth behind the magnifying glass in #3 on this list, this video amplifies the unsettling mood.

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