The album was recorded in Munich at Musicland Studios and Arco Studios with Summer's long-term collaborators and production team headed by producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. Arrangements were handled by Thor Baldursson. The artwork was designed by Gribbitt! with photography by Victor Skrebneski.
As with Summer's last few albums, different record labels distributed her work in different nations. Some of the labels chose to release the ballad "Can't We Just Sit Down (And Talk It Over)" as the first single, with "I Feel Love" as the B-side. However, the impact of the song was so huge that it was soon released internationally as an A-side. Previous disco tracks had usually been backed by an acoustic orchestra, and it has been reported that this was the first ever track to use an entirely synthesized backing track, which would later help develop genres of music such as dance and techno. Summer's repetitive vocals over the backing track helped make the song a massive hit. It finally gave her a follow-up in the US to her initial hit ("Love to Love You Baby"), and made number six on the Hot 100 singles chart. It was also a huge hit in Europe, and became a number one hit in the UK. "I Feel Love" firmly secured Donna Summer's place as the leading female artist of disco music.
Summer's sexually-oriented image seemed less prominent on this album, perhaps due to the slight departure from the regular disco sound and the fusion of this sound with the older sounding songs. In fact the lyrics to "Love's Unkind" in particular were very non-sexual compared to many of the love-themed songs Summer had recorded (the songs tells the story of a schoolgirl with a crush on one of her classmates). A couple of the "newer" styled songs on Side Two were slightly more of a sexual nature – namely "Take Me" and "I Feel Love". Around the same time as the album's release, Summer would further her reputation as a serious and credible artist when she was asked to record the theme song for the film The Deep by famous British composer John Barry. The song, "Down Deep Inside" was also released as a single and became another hit for Summer (Top five in the UK).
No doubt helped by the phenomenal success of "I Feel Love", the I Remember Yesterday album became her biggest so far. It produced several more hit singles in Europe, notably the title track (a UK Top 20 hit) and "Love's Unkind", which became a number three hit in the UK, making it one of her biggest and most remembered hits there. "Back in Love Again" was also a European single and became a Top 40 in the UK as well. It also peaked at number eighteen on the US Billboard 200, number eleven on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and number three on the UK Albums Chart. The entire album charted as one entry at number one on the Hot Dance/Disco chart.
The album back cover features a provocative image of Summer posing in a long skirt, in a spread-eagle squat, with hands crossed at her crotch. The image was used for the single release of "Can't We Just Sit Down (And Talk It Over)" b/w "I Feel Love", and later as the image for the "I Feel Love" single when it became a smash hit.