Science-fiction songs are rare visitors to the mundane world of Earth’s pop charts, and a song that goes beyond sci-fi into a genuinely apocalyptic future vision – a kind of folk-rock Olaf Stapledon! – is more unusual still. Everything about Zager and Evans’ hit – the high-sounding subtitle, the pained vocal nobility, the trilling melodrama of the guitars – could easily be read as kitsch now, but it carries a weird power and conviction too. This is actually enhanced by the quite boring song structure and the clunky phrasing – “You won’t find a thing to chew” – and goes some way to explaining both why it hit so big and why these time-tossed prophets failed to follow it up ever. On the other hand, if your comment on this is “totally ridiculous” I’m not actually going to disagree.

Score: 5

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