The pairing of The Cry of Love with Rainbow Bridge comprises the bulk of the most complete tracks that Jimi Hendrix was intending to release on his next (double) LP, titled either First Rays of the New Rising Sun or Strate Ahead [sic], the title atop the last documented track list found in Hendrix's notes. All songs on the album were written by Hendrix and recorded from late December 1969 through the summer of 1970, except "My Friend". Hendrix's friend Paul Caruso (mistakenly listed as a fictitious 'Gers' on the LP) plays harmonica on "My Friend". Mitchell and Kramer's involvement gave the album credibility, and it was well received by fans and critics alike. It managed to reach #3 in the US and #2 in the UK, and was regarded as the most accurate approximation of Hendrix's final album until First Rays of the New Rising Sun was released in 1997. "Freedom" b/w "Angel" was released as a single in the US, but only reached #59. In the UK, "Angel" b/w "Night Bird Flying" was the single released, though it did not manage to enter the charts. Remastered versions of all of the songs from The Cry of Love are featured on the 1997 compilation First Rays of the New Rising Sun.
The song "My Friend" was recorded during the early stages of the Electric Ladyland sessions in 1968. "Belly Button Window" was Hendrix's last studio recording with vocals, recorded at Electric Lady Studios on August 22, 1970.