The album was originally released by Asylum in the LP format in September 1978 (catalog number 155 or 6E-155). Subsequently, in 1990, Asylum released the album on cassette (TCS-155) and in the CD format (2-155).
In addition to the standard 1978 release, collector's-item editions of the LP were made in the same time period of the album in red vinyl (catalog number K53085) and also of a picture disc (catalog number DP 401) featuring a photograph of Ronstadt lacing up the roller skating boots that she is wearing on the front cover (this photograph is also included on the record sleeve in the standard release).
Although not released as a single, Ronstadt's version of "Love Me Tender" was edited together with the original version of the song by Elvis Presley, creating a duet between the two famous singers that was played by many radio stations at the time.
The album received largely positive reviews at the time of release. Ronstadt covered her last Warren Zevon song for this album ("Mohammed's Radio"). The album largely consisted of material that had previously been recorded and released by other artists including covers of songs written and performed previously by Little Feat, Elvis Presley and Elvis Costello.
At the time, Ronstadt's cover of Elvis Costello's "Alison" was criticized by Costello himself after he heard her version of the song, although he did admit he "liked the money." Ronstadt had her management reach out to Costello and asked if he had any other material she could cover. He responded by sending her three songs that she recorded for her follow-up album. After the release of Mad Love, Ronstadt's follow-up album with the three Costello songs she solicited, Costello again had negative comments about her versions of his songs. In later years, Costello praised Ronstadt and apologized for the harshness of his comments.