Madden 25 and Box Sets - Gift Time Already?

Madden 25 was released in stores on Tuesday. The popular game could be a nice holiday gift for gaming enthusiasts. (EA)

Is  it holiday gift shopping time, already? Today’s release of a video game blockbuster, “Madden 25”  and three terrific CD box sets focused on Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys and Sly and the  Family Stone might suggest so.

Gamers could actually line up and score “Madden 25” as early as midnight last night at some locations – like Walmart.  Electronic Arts is offering a “two for almost the price of one” deal on the game, to entice players who’re preparing to upgrade to the next generation Xbox One system coming at year’s end. Buy the updated (with this season’s rosters, better strategy and sound)  football game first for Xbox 360 from “participating dealers.” Then when the Xbox One system and companion version of “Madden 25”  comes out, you’ll be able to nab that software  rendering for a mere $10 more.

BTW - GameStop and Amazon are also promising easy/cheap, $10  upgrades (requiring a trade-in) for other “select titles” for  the (non-compatible) $499 Xbox One and $399 PlayStation 4.

Capping the 50th anniversary celebration for The Beach Boys, the six disc, seven and a half hour music package “Made in California” (Capitol/UMe) is super sweet. Love the “Yearbook” style padded book packaging, and the preponderance of never before released material (new songs, home demos, alt takes and mixes, live performances) mostly from their progressive (post surf/hot-rod) era.

The 4 CD box set Sly and the Family Stone “Higher” (Epic/Legacy) is also lavishly packaged in a day-glo slipcase, and well endowed with  funk rock surprises in the  vein of “Dance to the Music” and “Hot Fun in the Summertime.” Best treats – tracks as "The French Fries."

Bob Dylan’s “The Bootleg Series, Volume 10 –Another Self Portrait (1969-1972)” arrives today as both a two disc-set and a four-disc deluxe box.  Poshed up and stripped down  variations on  songs from  Dylan’s “Self Portrait” and “New Morning” album sessions  are the big revelations, here. The deluxe treatment adds a book, an expanded version of   Dylan’s cover-tune heavy “Self Portrait” (reviled in its time) and his complete 1969 concert performance with the Band at the Isle of Wight festival.