The Gladiators are a classic Roots Reggae band, and classic Roots is exactly what this song is.
The subject matter is conscious, with a selection of proverbs and adages used essentially to tell people not to judge a book by its cover. It’s a good message, and although the song is short, it is driven home well.
The song packs a lot musically into its 2 minutes 30 seconds run time as well, with 2 or 3 different sections on rotation. There’s the strident march of the verses, with an emphasis on the vocals of the group. The guitar embellishes the sound wonderfully, plucking fast, and the bass throbs in the classic Roots style.
My favourite section is the short bridge parts where the bass picks up and the instruments play out on their own.
The chorus is where perhaps the voices of The Gladiators shine through the most, with track’s title ringing out strongly.
“Looks Is Deceiving” is from the 1976 debut album of The Gladiators, Trenchtown Mix Up, which remains one of the Roots Reggae golden ages’ best albums.