Joanne Shaw Taylor – Key To My Highway

In the first of a new series, guitarist / singer / songwriter Joanne Shaw Taylor talks to Pete about the key albums in her own musical journey

JLTT: Accepting that choosing five key albums is difficult and will probably change tomorrow…

JS : (Laughs) That is the difficult thing ! Tomorrow I’d likely choose differently…

Well the first one that is key to me is Stevie Ray Vaughan and Texas Flood,for obvious reasons as I’m sure you know having spoken with me several times. I wouldn’t have been plying electric guitar if it hadn’t been for that album, so I had to include it really

Produced by John Hammond’s dad!

Yep – John Hammond Snr…the cuts I really like are Pride & Joy being the first song of Stevie’s I ever heard – actually on a live DVD but off that album and that song said a lot about Stevie to we’ve discussed before, he’s like the best blues guy for me in so many ways and my gateway into the blues. Good songs, short and sweet, ace guitar playing, great voice and Pride & Joy kind of sums that up

And a band to die for

Yes! Mr Layton and ol’ Tommy Shannon. That was one of the three-piece albums I liked a lot…Reece is great on the later ones, but that trio works so well

What’s another cut that you really like on that album?

Rude Mood – the instrumental, lifted off a Lightning Hopkins song and which also for me shows how Stevie progressed the genre..I had been playing about three months and they printed the tablature in Guitarist magazine and so I spent the whole six weeks holiday locked in my bedroom playing it or trying to, failed miserably but it gave me something to do!

But every time you pick up an instrument you learn something….

Exactly ! Well I did at least pick up some good motor skills from it..even if I didn’t quite master the song!

I was over at Roger Mayer’s (my FX guru – PS) one Sunday afternoon and he was about to pack a custom unit he’d made into a box to send it to the States. I made him delay and let me play through it for a few minutes, it was called a Lion Fuzz. I got a Harvey Mandel sound out of it. Then we boxed it up to send next day. Stevie never got it as just a few days later the fatal helicopter crash happened…I guess Jimmie has it now?

Probably..or his son Tyrone…

What’s next?

Well next album choice, Pete is Albert Collins and Ice Pickin’ because Stevie was instrumental in getting me playing but Albert was first love for Dad shows me a DVD of Collins live in Brazil and he comes down these steps and they’re all singing ‘Mr Collins, Mr Collins’ – they don’t have female vocalists so the male horn section’s doing it..just so funky and weird and I was instantly hooked

For you, surrounded by Madonna and similar stuff, that must have been like an alien visit !

Yeah! Different to Take That..also for me coming from the classical field, someone like Albert Collins shows me that there were no rules, could play guitar with a capo whichever fret you wanted Minor tuning.  And if it sounded good, whatever..I’d been struggling at that point to use a plectrum and I still use my fingers a lot.

I saw him at the Electric Ballroom and he walked out on to the street with a long lead, to chat to the cabbies. Never stopped playing, left the band playing on stage….

Jim Gaines said that he only recorded with a Fender Bassman and he’d run his finger along the knobs turning everything up full then put the reverb on 4 ! It worked , it worked ! I like ‘Mr Collins, Mr Collins’ and ‘Travelling South’’s been covered a lot by blues guys, but that’s my favourite version.

I can see how you’ve soaked that up, Jo but of course at no point do you try to sound like Albert Collins

(Laughs) Well I think I knew that having little white girl fingers that was never going to happen ! I was just hoping to get anywhere in the ball park

What’s next then?

Next important album for me is by the band The Paladins and Million Mile High Club. It’s a live album they did and they’re a rockabilly band, from California. I don’t know if it’s the randomness of the night or the skills of the producer but it turned out almost like a three-piece rock-blues record, though it’s based on their traditional / customary songs…grea trio guitar player and a big influence on me..repetitive licks hook you into the sound..guess I kinda lifted that off them, I suppose.

I reckon they influenced that outfit Los Lonely Boys…

Yes, I would think so..if you go say to Holland where the rockabilly thing is big, they are like gods there

Have you seen Ian Siegal’s band?

I am good mates with Ian and I’m going to see them play in a couple of weeks ..I have yet to see him play with Dusty..he and I have had a few chats about The Paladins

I have a baritone guitar now – Bill Kirchen’s to blame! He just laughs at causing me expense– and Dusty does sometimes play one.

We did a festival in Holland and he was hanging around as I think he was playing the next day…Let’s Buzz is a great track on this album and then mine and my Dad’s favourite song, Kiddio..saw them do that in Australia last year and I was elated

Next selection?

Won’t surprise you, the mighty Purple One, Prince. Purple Rain. Maybe there’s better albums, but that was the first one I heard. Go with Purple Rain and Let’s Go Crazy. He is still a huge influence on me, you can’t beat Prince! He’s the whole package and maybe the first guy I saw who was so much more than just a guitar player.He’s one of the greatest players ever but it takes a back seat to everything else.

Yes, a bit like Zappa, you sometimes wish he’d step forward more often..Prince is the strangest guy to meet, very guarded and nervous. I was writing about Minneapolis music back then and he denied ever reading any of it. But I jokingly suggested in print once he pair The Future with 1999 and at a later show he gave me a sideways glance and opened with them…bizarre..

My Number Five is Free and Fire & Water..which I think was the first Free album I ever heard..I am a huge Kossoff fan..he and Gary Moore were the first ‘rock’ guys I got into. They opened that genre of guitar playing for me. Also Paul Rodgers probably my favourite singer, that’s worth mentioning

Andy Fraser told us that they were so excited when Wilson Pickett did Fire & Water, they were jumping around when they got the record! Mr Big’s on that album…

Yes, the one I picked was Don’t Say You Love Me..a ballad..for my Mum and Dad that was their song..I’d probably cover it if I had the nerve to sing it

The album doesn’t outstay its welcome, every cut works

Yeah it’s just a great album..and it hasn’t aged much either.You can hear them having a mark on Vintage Trouble or Alabama Shakes. They ticked all the boxes – the instrumental work, the vocals , the quality of the songs….

Pete Sargeant

Footnote:- Sadly Prince isn’t on Spotify. Prince..if you DO happen to read this…get uploading!

Here it is on iTunes anyhow –


Joanne Shaw Taylor’s 21-date UK tour starts at Exeter Phoenix on Tuesday 22 September, and marks the very first time that Planet Rock presents a full UK tour by an established UK artist.

Tickets can be booked from or by from the 24 hour box office on 0844 478 0898.  All tickets are priced £20.




EXETER PHOENIX                                  Tuesday 22 September

ST IVES GUILDHALL                             Wednesday 23 September

WARWICK ARTS CENTRE                    Saturday 26 September

YORK, FIBBERS                                      Monday 28 September

GLASGOW ORAN-MOR                       Tuesday 29 September

LIVERPOOL EPSTEIN THEATRE           Thursday 1 October

SALE WATERSIDE ARTS CENTRE         Friday 2 October

KENDAL BREWERY ARTS                     Saturday 3 October

CLITHEROE GRAND                              Sunday 4 October

DURHAM GALA                                    Wednesday 7 October

LINCOLN DRILL HALL                          Thursday 8 October

SHORHAM ROPETACKLE                     Saturday 10 October

BROMSGROVE ARTRIX                        Monday 12 October (SOLD OUT)

BROMSGROVE ARTRIX                        Tuesday 13 October (NEW DATE)

GLOUCESTER GUILDHALL                   Wednesday 14 October

FROME CHEESE AND GRAIN               Thursday 15 October

MILTON KEYNES STABLES                  Monday 19 October

NORWICH WATERFRONT                   Tuesday 20 October

HERTFORD CORN EXCHANGE             Thursday 22 October

NEWBURY ARLINGTON ARTS            Friday 23 October


LONDON, JAZZ CAFÉ                           Monday 26 October (SOLD OUT)

LONDON, JAZZ CAFÉ                           Tuesday 27 October (NEW DATE)

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