AL 9522 Growing Up In Public
Produced by Lou Reed and Michael Fonfara
Released on April 1980
US CHART POSITION #158
Find it at GEMM
AL 9522 cover
[high resolution scan]
 

T he power of the Tower card come tumbling down, Growing Up In Public is the cartoon coloring book version of one man’s descent into the hell of the past. Similar to Alice Cooper’s From The Inside (another underrated favorite of mine), this album delivers a dire message in upbeat and almost childlike arrangements. It’s a deception, of course, and one need look no deeper than the groundbreaking guitar-synth work of Chuck Hammer to hear the lightning that rumbles Reed’s childhood fantasies. The opening “How Do You Speak To An Angel” is all polite and stuttering sweetness until the shocking guitar-synth solo comes crashing in, and you hear the rage underneath the impotence. The next track, “My Old Man,” reveals the source of that rage, and so begins a series of vignettes from a troubled childhood (“Smiles,” “Standing On Ceremony”) and ineffectual adulthood (“So Alone,” “The Power of Positive Drinking”). Yet, listening to this record, you’ll think Reed has gone soft. It’s the closest he’s come to making a pop album, with pleasant piano chords and bouncy bass guitar lines. The lyrics are another story; they talk of repression, anger and futility. The breakthrough moment occurs on “Think It Over,” when all of the bitterness is set aside for a shot at real love. In the interest of fair disclosure, I did own this on a cassette and played it in my car constantly, so familiarity may have bred fidelity. That would explain Tony Banks’ The Fugitive anyway. But I owned Street Hassle on cassette and that never got under my skin like Growing Up In Public. I certainly wouldn’t put Public on the same pedestal as Berlin, but song for song it’s one of the most likeable Lou Reed records I own; arguably the best of the comedic/tragic albums that would include Mistrial and Legendary Hearts.

AL 9522 back cover AL 9522 lyric sleeve
AL 9522 back cover AL 9522 lyric sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. HOW DO YOU SPEAK TO AN ANGEL    4:08
  2. MY OLD MAN    3:15
  3. KEEP AWAY    3:31
  4. GROWING UP IN PUBLIC    3:00
  5. STANDING ON CEREMONY    3:32
  6. SO ALONE    4:05
  7. LOVE IS HERE TO STAY    3:10
  8. THE POWER OF POSITIVE DRINKING    2:13
  9. SMILES    2:44
  10. THINK IT OVER    3:25
  11. TEACH THE GIFTED CHILDREN    3:20

    All songs written by Lou Reed and Michael Fonfara

CREDITS

LOU REED -- vocals, guitars, mixing
ELLARD BOLES -- bass, background vocals
MICHAEL FONFARA -- keyboards, guitars, mixing
CHUCK HAMMER -- guitars
STUART HEINRICH -- guitars, background vocals
MICHAEL SUCHORSKY -- drums
Corky Stasiak -- engineer, mixing
Mick Rock -- photos
Howard Fritzson -- design

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US/CAN/NZ April 1980 Arista LP AL 9522 lyric sleeve
UK 1980 Arista LP SPART 1131 lyric insert
AUS'L 1980 Arista/Festival LP L37293 lyric sleeve
FRA/GER/NET 1980 Arista LP 202.120-320  
ITA 1980 Arista LP ARS-39046  
JPN 1980 Arista LP 25RS-90  
US October 10, 2000 Buddha CD 99658  
JPN   RCA CD BVCM-37407  
JPN 2006 BMG CD BVCM-37749  

 

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