To Bob Marley's emotionally charged music and lyrics, add the tight riddims and harmonies of the Wailers and then put all of that talent into the ceaselessly creative hands of production wizard Lee "Scratch" Perry. What you get is a 16-track reggae masterpiece capturing what is perhaps some of the best music Bob Marley & the Wailers ever committed to tape. The songs range from beautiful love songs like "Don't Rock the Boat" to cathartic political anthems like "Brain Washing," but even with the broad scope, no tracks miss the mark. They all cut straight to the heart and burn with an urgency rarely felt in music of any genre. So defining are the tracks that Marley himself was to return to the same themes later in his career, reviving such classics as "Lively Up Yourself" on Natty Dread, "Trench Town Rock" on Live!, and "Kaya" on Kaya, among others. While this is a Bob Marley & the Wailers album, Perry's unique production almost steals the show. Perry's bare-bones, heavy sound provides an interesting contrast to the slicker approach taken on Catch a Fire, produced by Bob Marley & the Wailers and Chris Blackwell and also made in 1973. Catch a Fire has an almost rock edge to it, but on African Herbsman, one can hear Perry's swirling mix madness lurking just beneath the surface of each Trench Town-tough track.
AllMusic Review by Matthew Hilburn