"YYZ": Heroic Guitarist or "Guitar Hero"?

11_12 My older son, Paul, is kinda bummed that he wasn't able to go with me to Rush's American tour finale last night at Madison Square Garden. Seems he was especially eager to hear "YYZ."

That would be "YYZ" as made famous by Guitar Hero II, the videogame that includes a cover of the classic instrumental, with the billing: "YYZ" as made famous by Rush. Y'see, Paul doesn't think he's even heard the original track. After all, it was released on Moving Pictures way back in 1981 - eight years before Paul himself was, um, released. (And folks, that's a helluva long time in "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" years.)

51ibgxcllzl_ss500_ As any self-respecting Guitar Hero knows, "YYZ" is the encore number for GH2's seventh tier, Furious Fretwork. And it has become one of the game's most beloved and challenging tracks. It was used for the recent World Series of Video Games - and there's a killer example of its attraction right here on YouTube.

Coming for Christmas: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (available October 27) and, for full guitar/bass/drum/vocal heroism, Rock Band (November 20). I'll have more to say about those in later posts . . .

Meanwhile, GHP (Guitar Hero Paul), playing "YYZ" at Expert difficulty, has achieved 74% notes hit. And last night, GHAL (Guitar Hero Alex Lifeson) did fine by "YYZ," too. As did the whole band by the whole set. 'Twas a great show, indeed. I'll let my colleague Mike Mettler say more about that, to follow up on his previous posts.

But note: GH2 features "YYZ" as an encore. And on this tour, Rush has moved "YYZ" to the final . . . encore! Coincidence? Judging from the self-mocking faces Alex made during the song, maybe not! -Ken Richardson