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Preserving the Past: Anthology Recordings and Archive.org

Much of the traffic in online music involves the latest singles and albums, downloaded from one of the giant outlets (iTunes, Rhapsody) or, perhaps, illegally. A couple of great sites are more interested in preserving the music of the past.

Launched this fall, Anthology Recordings (www.anthologyrecordings.com) is an online-only record label and shop specializing in resurrecting music long out of print. It carries esoteric, experimental and out-of-the-way recordings that only hard-core music nuts caught on the first go-round (and that aren't available anywhere else). The first batch of releases includes albums such as "Off the Beaten Track" by eclectic world-fusion group African Head Charge and a rare and infectious live release from pre-Replacements Minneapolis garage rockers Suicide Commandos. Forgotten treasures are added regularly.

A much broader selection of music can be found at the online sharing forum Archive.org, which has for several years specialized as an outlet for live recordings, most of which are made by audience members. The site first made its name with its exceptionally deep selection of Grateful Dead bootlegs, but the band eventually asked that better soundboard recordings be removed (so they could make money selling them from Dead.net, presumably). But bands such as rootsy blues-rap outfit G. Love and Special Sauce, hush-rockers Cowboy Junkies and even Richmond's own Carbon Leaf are happy to participate, and each has dozens of shows available free for download. Sound quality is highly variable, but what do you want for nothing? S

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