During the early 1970s, Alison McCallum (b. 1951) was one of the most popular female singers on the Sydney scene. Like Wendy Saddington, Renée Geyer, Bobbi Marchini, Sheryl Black (from SCRA) and Janice Slater, McCallum was a soul/blues stylist of considerable flair and passion. She listed blues singers Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, and gospellers Clara Ward and Marianne Williams, among her strongest influences.
McCallum began her career in the late 1960s with Sydney-based bands like Big Apple Union, Dr Kandy's Third Eye and Chorus, before joining Freshwater at the end of 1970. McCallum recorded one soul-pop single with Freshwater `I Ain't Got the Time'/`Hello Sunshine' (November 1971), which featured her sweet vocals up front. McCallum left Freshwater at the end of the year to sing with Ray Brown's One Ton Gypsy for one month before going solo. Her debut single, a stirring version of Vanda and Young's `Superman'/`Take Me Back', reached #12 on the national charts in April 1972. Visiting English producer Simon Napier-Bell (Yardbirds, Move, T-Rex) worked on McCallum's debut album, Fresh Water. The album's mix of rock, jazz and blues material proved to be a fine showcase for her expressive voice.
At the end of 1972, McCallum sang lead vocals on the Gough Whitlam-led Labor Party's election campaign theme song, `It's Time'. She also appeared in the television advertisements that went to air at that time, and `It's Time' came out as a single (backed with `Hippy Gumbo'). McCallum recorded three more singles for RCA, `Ol' Rock'n' Roll Boogie Woogie Blues'/`Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby?', `Would You Believe?'/`Lonely' and `Teach Me How to Fly'/`Fire' before travelling to Europe to work. She performed `Superman' at the 1973 Midem Conference in Cannes, France. On her return to Australia in 1974, McCallum signed to Albert Productions. At the start of 1975, she scored her second hit single, `Excuse Me'/`Honk Honk' (#15 in January).
She recorded two more singles with Albert, `Her Kind of Guy'/`If Your Eyes Could Smile' (September 1975) and `Love Grows Cold'/`Lunatic Love' (February 1976), plus the album Excuse Me. The album included two Vanda and Young songs, `Cry for Me' and `Things to Do' plus an elegant reworking of the Flying Burrito Brothers' tender-sad love song `Hot Burrito'. While signed to Albert, McCallum recorded a single, `So Tough'/`To Know Him is to Love Him' (October 1974), as one-third of the vocal group The Hooter Sisters (alongside Janice Slater and Bobbi Marchini). McCallum then concentrated on session work, appearing on albums by Billy Thorpe, Ross Ryan, Jeff St John and Anne Kirkpatrick among others.
In an opportunistic piece of record company marketing, RCA reissued `Superman'/`Take Me Back' during 1979 in order to capitalise on the release of Superman: The Movie starring Christopher Reeves. RCA also issued a Best of collection called Superman. Since that time, McCallum has disappeared from public view. An Alison McCallum rarity appeared on the 1979 Glenn A. Baker-assembled collection Albert Archives. In 1969, McCallum had recorded a version of The Bee Gees' oft-covered `To Love Somebody' with backing provided by Tully. The song had been aired as part of the ABC-TV series devoted to Tully called Fusions.