Growing Up in Public was a transitional album for Lou Reed; it was his last set with his long-running road band (dominated by keyboardist Michael Fonfara), and while the fleshed-out arrangements are of a piece with Reed's work on Rock & Roll Heart and The Bells, the lyrics of the best songs anticipate the directly personal, emotionally naked songwriting that marked the two extraordinary albums that would follow, The Blue Mask and Legendary Hearts. "How Do You Speak to an Angel," "My Old Man," and "Standing on Ceremony" deal with Reed's family issues with a direct force he hadn't summoned since "Kill Your Sons" (we'll leave it to others to debate their accuracy), and "So Alone" and "Keep Away" both offer a trenchant but heart-rending look at modern relationships. And "The Power of Positive Drinking" is amusing, but rather surprising coming from a guy who would give up alcohol and drugs a year after this was released. Growing Up in Public didn't get much notice on its initial release, but all these years later it sounds like a dry run for what was to be the most creatively fruitful period of Lou Reed's solo career.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming