Cale, who was languishing in obscurity at the time, had no knowledge of Clapton's recording of "After Midnight" until it became a radio hit in 1970. Cale's friend and producer, Audie Ashworth, encouraged Cale to record a full album in order to capitalize on the success of his song. Naturally was recorded independently, "on spec", the musicians being paid demo fees. Some songs, such as "Call Me the Breeze", were recorded with primitive drum machine accompaniment and sound almost like demos.
The album showcased Cale's distinctive, understated style, and it successfully established his solo recording career which continued until his death in 2013. The album was originally released on Leon Russell's "Shelter" label, spawning the 1972 hits "Crazy Mama" (Billboard Hot 100 #22- his only Top 40 hit ) and "After Midnight" (#42) as well as turntable hits "Bringing it Back" (recorded by Kansas in their first album), "Call Me the Breeze" (later recorded by Lynyrd Skynyrd) and "Clyde" (later recorded by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, and a 1980 country hit for Waylon Jennings).