There's a scene near the end of The Badlees' new music video, "Angeline Is Coming Home," when Emmy award-winning actress Julianna Margulies, star of TV's "ER," is dramatically transformed.
Through a series of quick edits, "Angeline" — portrayed by Margulies — evolves from a happy, glowing and jubilant figure into a weeping, tattered and frightened one. Finally, as the scene ends, she calmly strolls towards camera — reserved, straight-faced and genteel.
"Resplendent in dignity — Angeline is coming home."
Area music fans have heard vocalist Pete Palladino sing those words for over a year in area nightclubs and on the radio, and beginning this month, so may America. "Angeline Is Coming Home," has been released nationally as the latest single from the band's critically acclaimed "River Songs" album; a new music-video for the song, directed by "ER" star Anthony Edwards, was recently shot in Los Angeles.
Tonight at the group's performance at The Woodlands, fans can get a sneak peek of the clip before it appears on MTV or VH1. It will also be the last chance to see the Badlees before they embark on a national tour with Bob Seger, which begins Saturday night in Seattle.
The video, says guitarist Bret Alexander, was shot on Charlie Chaplain's original sound stage, now a part of at the A&M Studios. (The stage was also recently used to shoot videos by both Live and Soundgarden.) Alexander says "Angeline" was first brought to Edwards' attention by Nick Gatfield, president of The Badlees' label, Atlas Records.
"They're friends," he says, "Anthony had done some directing and wanted to do more of it ... He liked our record and said he wanted a crack of it."
Palladino says the band spent two days on location, and that the group was a bit surprised by the size of the production.
"It was kind of amazing for us — being this little band from Pennsylvania," he says. "I remember saying, 'All of these people are here for us — there's 60 people here working on this video for this little record that we made a couple of summers ago.'"
Both Palladino and Alexander say they were impressed by the enthusiasm and professionalism of not only Edwards and Margulies, but the entire film crew, many of whom Edwards brought in from "ER."
"This was Anthony's first video, so he was as excited as a little kid," says Palladino. "It was nice to see somebody so caught up ... this wasn't just another job to him. Julianna's a consummate professional. She came in did what she had to do and genuinely liked the song and liked the band."
The story-line in the video portrays "Angeline" as a troubled artist. Showing scenes from her childhood to adulthood, the cause of her problems is left open to interpretation. Edited in and around the story-line scenes are shots of the band performing the song.
Alexander, who co-wrote "Angeline," admits to not being a big fan of music videos. He says he prefers to let the music be judged on its own, with listeners forming their own interpretations of song lyrics. Still, Alexander says he understands the commercial need for video in today's music industry.
Palladino says he unsure how he feels about videos as medium, only revealing that he dislikes clips in which band members serve as actors, and ones which overly-exploit the song's story-line.
"The whole video medium is so new to us that, at this point, we're just observers," he says. "People like R.E.M. and U2 have done some cool stuff with the medium — but just watch 'Beavis & Butthead' any night and you'll see all the bands that didn't use it to their advantage."
Palladino says one of the advantages to working with a big name like Edwards is the added exposure. (News of the video has already been mentioned in Entertainment Weekly, People and Rolling Stone, as well as on TV's Entertainment Tonight and EXTRA.) He adds that Edwards' interest in the band appeared sincere.
"We did a show with the Gin Blossoms in California a couple of weeks ago," Palladino says. "Anthony came down and hung out with us for a while and brought his son down ... he genuinely likes the band. The fact that we were going to get so much mileage out of the fact that he was directing the video was great."
Locally, "Angeline" began getting air-play about a year ago, shortly after "River Songs" was released independently on the band's own Rite-Off Records label. By late spring, the song was getting heavy play on local radio, and by mid-summer the buzz on The Badlees had far surpassed that of 1994, when the group topped The Times Leader's "Sound Choice" reader's poll and was voted the area's best band.
In July of 1995, the group was signed to a national recording contract with Atlas/A&M Records, and in October, "River Songs" was released across America.
Mike Naydock of Hazleton, a long-time songwriting partner with the band and a DJ at WZMT-FM (97.9) The Mountain, co-wrote "Angeline" with Alexander. The song is loosely based on a woman he once knew who suffered from a chemical dependency and went through re-hab.
As the man responsible for the song's lyrics, Naydock says he's glad the story-line in the new video remains ambiguous.
"You can still keep the imagery of the song in your own mind," he says, "it's not being spelled out for you. In terms of the over-all cinematography, it looks as good as anything you'll see on MTV or VH1."
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of "Angeline Is Coming Home" — no matter how you interpret it — is its non-judgmental nature. The lyrics tell the tale of a woman who is flawed in character and has made mistakes in judgment, yet like the New Testament's "Prodigal Son," is welcomed home by her family and friends.
In a world full of finger-pointers and self-righteousness, its theme is welcome.
"You can come back," says Naydock, recalling his inspiration for writing the song. "You can come home with a certain amount of dignity and pride intact."