Although the Residents had released several collections by the time Petting Zoo arrived in the spring of 2002, the intention behind this one was different. Acting as a sampler for anyone unfamiliar with the band's long and bizarre history, the album had the dual task of both converting the unconverted and fitting their most recognizable and accessible material onto one album. Of course the latter is a goal that is nearly impossible to reach, but they do their best to pack it with fan favorites. Songs like "Constantinople," "Hello Skinny," "Aging Musician," and "Kick a Picnic" are important parts of their brilliant Icky Flix DVD, while other choices such as "Safety Is a Cootie Wootie" and "God's Magic Finger: Road" prepare listeners for the overwhelming collection of weirdness they've released. This is definitely the most inexpensive way to examine the band's catalog, even if it barely skims it. The primal rock devolution of Third Reich & Roll is a world apart from the edgy Western ambience of Cube E, making it hard to gauge what albums might appeal to whom. In the end, this is a decent collection that represents only the most popular and often simple parts of a complex and rich catalog of creative music. It may convince a few who may not know the band, but the true bonus of being a Residents fan is the joy of discovery, and no budget sampler can replace that. This is not a bad place to start, but adventurous listeners should read up on the band and pick something from their catalog to digest.
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AllMusic Review by Bradley Torreano