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Though any number of bands have concerned themselves with the various intrigues and conspiracies that comprise the modern political world, few ever nailed their colors so firmly to the flagpole as the Wanderers. Vocalist Stiv Bators and bassist Dave Tregunna powered the Lords of the New Church through their own catalog of secret intrigues and the Wanderers not only laid out the basic premise from which the Lords launched, but they also left behind an album, 1981's Only Lovers Left Alive. This album remains one of the most foreboding records ever released and plunges the listener into a world of Bolshevik plots, duplicate Popes, and a third World War that is so close you can smell it.
Formed following vocalist Jimmy Pursey's departure from Sham 69, the Wanderers lined up as the remainder of that band with Tregunna, Dave Parsons, and Mark Goldstein, plus former Dead Boys vocalist Bators.
Bators had recently begun subscribing to the taped "audio letters" of one Dr. Peter Beter, supposedly a one-time advisor to the Kennedy family, the former head of a world banking organization, and a self-pronounced Defender of Truth. Fiercely patriotic and convinced that America was but a diplomatic handshake (or more likely, an undiplomatic bullet) away from being plunged into "the hell of worldwide Bolshevism," Beter devoted himself to winkling out subterfuge from almost any world event one could name, a spider's web of warning that extended from the Vatican to the White House, from the arms race to the oil wells. He was believable as well, particularly on those occasions when real life events really did coincide with his predictions.
Bators was certainly convinced. Both on-stage and off, Beter's pronouncements dominated the singer's conversation and the Wanderers' album began to take shape. One track was even named for Beter, incorporating sampled excerpts from some of the audio letters alongside a stunning Bators lyric that neatly encapsulated most every significant prophecy Beter had delivered. Indeed, if Beter really was the herald of a new world apocalypse, then the Wanderers were his Imperial Guard and Only Lovers Left Alive documented their resistance to the coming cataclysm as literately as any newspaper report.
That, Bators later insisted, was why Only Lovers Left Alive was lost before it was even released; that was why a couple of singles (the driving "Ready to Snap" and a dramatic cover of Dylan's "The Times They Are a-Changing"), snuck out unnoticed by anyone and that was why the Wanderers themselves were dropped by Polydor before they'd even had a chance to ask why they never received any album reviews. The Wanderers broke up within days of being dropped. Parsons commenced work on his first solo album, Bators and Tregunna linked with the waiting Brian James in the Lords, and Only Lovers Left Alive slipped into oblivion for the next 19 years. It was finally reissued by Captain Oi! in 2000. ~ Dave Thompson