After being successful with bands including The Yardbirds, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Cream and Blind Faith, Clapton recorded an album under his own name in late 1969 and early 1970. The album cover shows Clapton sitting in a room which is going to be decorated and in which a ladder, a chair and some carpets are placed. Clapton holds a cigarette in his right hand and has his Fender Stratocaster Brownie electric guitar with him.
Clapton recorded some tracks in November 1969 at London's Olympic Studios and went on to record more songs in 1970 in two sessions; one in January 1970 at the Village Recorders Studio in West Los Angeles and a second session in March the same year at Island Studios in London. A large number of musicians that worked with Clapton on the album had been working with the band Delaney & Bonnie, which previously opened the Blind Faith gigs. The musicians included the core of Derek & the Dominos, including co-creator and co-songwriter Bobby Whitlock, who can be heard on "Let It Rain".
The song "Let it Rain" had originally been recorded with different lyrics as "She Rides". Three mixes of the album were done, one by Delaney Bramlett, one by Tom Dowd and one by Clapton himself. The 11-track album, Dowd mix was the one used for the original release. Bramlett's 10-track album mix without "Told You For the Last Time," is included in the Deluxe Edition released on CD in 2006.
In an interview from 2006, promoting The Road to Escondido, Clapton recalled that he was very happy making this album and was pleased with the results of the recording sessions, but also noted that "the only thing [he] didn't like about the album is [his] voice", because it sounds so "high" and "young", which Clapton disliked, because he "always wanted to sound like an old guy".
Contemporary reviews were largely positive. Rolling Stone noted the "warm, friendly" aspect of the record, commending "Clapton's voice" and the "mean guitar". Q magazine described the album as swinging "like leaves in the breeze".Robert Christgau rated the album with the "B" mark and noted: "I blame a conceptual error, rather than Clapton's uncertain singing, for the overall thinness. As a sideman, Clapton slipped into producer Delaney Bramlett's downhome bliss as easily as he did into Cream's blues dreamscape, but as a solo artist he can't simulate Delaney's optimism".
In a retrospective review for AllMusicStephen Thomas Erlewine feels that Clapton "sounds more laid-back and straightforward than any of the guitarist's previous recordings. There are still elements of blues and rock & roll, but they're hidden beneath layers of gospel, R&B, country, and pop flourishes. And the pop element of the record is the strongest of the album's many elements". Erlewine finishes his summary by stating "it's encouraging to hear him grow and become a more fully rounded musician, but too often the album needs the spark that some long guitar solos would have given it. In short, it needs a little more of Clapton's personality."