I'm not particularly surprised no one's commented on this title as it's rather difficult to track down, even in SQ LP form - I've seen dozens of Head To The Sky and That's The Way Of The World SQ's listed on eBay or Discogs over the last few years, but only four or five of these at most.
Anyway, I finally got ahold of a rather minty copy about a week ago and spent a good few hours decoding, recording, and de-clicking it. In short, it's fantastic - maybe the best of all the Earth, Wind & Fire quad releases. It seems Larry Keyes basically perfected quad mixing just as CBS started to wind down their SQ/Q8 release program. The last few quad mixes credited to him, released in '76 or '77 (This EWF, Johnnie Taylor's Eargasm, The Isley Brothers' Go For Your Guns, etc) are among the best surround mixes I've heard - still very discrete, but much more refined than his earlier work from '72 or '73 (Santana's Abraxas & III, Loggins & Messina's self-titled album, etc).
The quad mix typically presents the drums in stereo across the front, with the lead vocal front center, while other elements such as rhythm guitar, keys/synth, horns, and backing vocals are isolated in the rears. Every track has something to offer surround-wise, but the instrumental "Biyo" is a particular highlight with the electric guitar and synthesizer dueling in the rears while the percussion and sax stay anchored upfront.
I did get a chance to compare my SQ conversion (Tate-decoded) with the Q8 - I'm generally impressed with the results, but the track "Saturday Nite" does reveal the unfortunate limitations of matrix decoding. This track would make a great torture test for even the best SQ decoder as both rear channels go completely silent for fairly long stretches of time.
"Saturday Nite" (SQ):
"Saturday Nite" (Q8):
Can't help but give this a "10". It's certainly deserving of the same hi-rez treatment that the Head To The Sky and Open Our Eyes quad mixes received several years ago.
glad you're enjoying this one, i absolutely adore it in surround! as you say its one of those late-era CBS Quads where Larry Keyes had really refined his surround mixing skills and was nailing it every time.. Spirit's been among my all-time most hoped for reissues since Audio Fidelity and Vocalion started doing old Quads.. AF released those two earlier EW&F Quads and they were excellent but the two later EW&F Quads are the ones i was really hoping for.. its a "10".