I was introduced to Captain Tractor a few years ago, during what turned out to be a life-changing adventure for me. Best known for their drinking songs, this self-described folk-Celtic-pop-punk-rock Canadian band attracted my attention with their infectious energy, but kept it with thoughtful lyrics and varied arrangements that include flute and trombone on older releases. We've only a few CDs of mostly older material, but they wear well. From Land, my favorites are Sounds Strange, The Logdriver's Waltz, 400X, and an unlisted track I'd heard years before as a unattributed, regular close on a rock radio station, Extra. Bought the Farm might be my favorite disc so far, with great tracks including 1000 Goodbyes, Someday, Frozen Puck to the Head, I Remember You, and an exuberant cover of If I Were a Rich Man. Whenever I cue up some Tractor, I always close with my two favorite songs, both from East of Edson—The Last Saskatchewan Pirate and Free Yo'Self. Great drinking songs (not to mention their own brand of beer), a wide range of musicianship, and one of the best pro-freedom songs I've heard make Captain Tractor a nice choice for fun or upbeat listening. The lads are even nice enough to offer some free downloads, including a few of the songs mentioned above—so give 'em a try.
The other band to get a lot of play lately is one from the vault: Def Leppard. And even though I have some of their best releases, including High 'N' Dry, Pyromania, and Hysteria, it's invariably Vault that I cue up. With only a few missing faves that I can easily drop in to the playlist (like Rock Rock [Till You Drop]), it's the fastest way to get my 80s metal fix. For me it's always been about the music, not the videos, and many of their hits have aged very well. Hearing some—like Armageddon It, Let's Get Rocked, Foolin', and Rocket—take me back to the carefree days of cruising with my brother in his Firebird. Solid rock but without the screamy vocals that my Sweetie despises means I can play Def Leppard without too much complaining by him ... which is good because Pour Some Sugar on Me still revs me up every time I hear it.