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Salt Solution

Salt Solution: L to R Pete Milner, Andy Clark, Simon Bartlett, Rob Bathurst, Martin Day
Salt Solution the ’89-’95 line up. Pete Milner, Andy Clark, Simon Bartlett, Rob Bathurst, Martin Day

The Beginning

The 2nd 'Mervyn Sprocket and the Crankshaft Assembly gig 1982. L to R: Kenton Keys, Rob Bathurst, Simon Bartlett, Martin Day (obscured Martin Gibbs on Drums)
Mervyn Sprocket and the Crankshaft Assembly, 30th Jan ’82. L to R: Kenton Keys, Rob Bathurst, Simon Bartlett, Martin Day (obscured, Martin Gibbs)

A gig to remember… The original Mervyn Sprocket and the Crankshaft Assembly gig was a one night wonder. Martin made his entry though the audience on Motorcycle, and sang ‘Torn leather tearaway’ before dismounting. This was a one night only performance with Martin Day (vocals), Steve Collins (guitar), Pete Mulford (bass) and the late-Dave Gardener (drums). The next concert was the first with the Crankshaft Assembly proper with founder members Martin, Rob and Simon. Again in St. Johns but this time in the Church itself. No reverence on this occasion: We were pelted with kneelers that demolished the drum kit and bent the cheap symbols – Yes!

The Band

Robert Bathurst and Martin Day produce a strange Hobbit effect whilst playing outdoors with Salt Solution mid 80's
Salt Solution’s Rob Bathurst and Martin Day, St John’s Lye, 23rd June ’84

Salt Solution roamed a small island off the coast of Europe from the early 1980 until the mid-90s, in a time when electro-pop ruled the Earth. A band years ahead of it’s time, or years behind it, Salt Solution were faith-fired, guitar-driven rock; lyrically observant, both outraged and optimistic. With a diverse cover-free set they played concerts the length and breadth of England, at venues as diverse as pubs, youth clubs, schools and prisons. Festivals too were familiar territory including Greenbelt, Cross Rhythms, Kingston and twice at the Brixton Academy. Essentially the Salties were always a live band, ever conscious that we were subjecting each audience to an hour or more of unfamiliar music, we needed to ensure that it didn’t all sound the same.

A few demo cassettes exist and some home video footage. There was a solitary single in 1986, “Your Country Needs You” on the Embryo Arts label and a feature on the 3rd ACM Journal Anniversary CD. Finally a retrospective album ‘Arctic Frosties‘ was released on CD in 2000 and is currently available from buy from Amazonlisten on Apple Musiclisten on Spotifylisten on Deezerlisten on Youtubelisten on KKBox and “all good online e-tailers”.

watch the Salt Solution Video
Salt Solution’s gig on 16th May ’87 at the Brixton Academy was videoed

Band line up

Andy Clark – Drums.
Simon Bartlett – Bass, backing vocals.
Pete Milner – Sax, keyboards, occasional backing vocals, tap dancing.
Robert Bathurst – Lead & rhythm guitar, occasional backing vocals.
Martin Day – Vocals, occasional lead & rhythm guitar.


(mainly self indulgent)

The Anti-climax

A pub gig in Conisborough (Yorkshire). Start of the concert – a big rumbling build up and – power failure, leaving only the drums clattering on alone. The guy packing up his disco, which was on first, pulls the wrong plug out. “Sorry lads”.

The big break.
Brixton Academy in London. A matinee audience of 1500.

The plan:
One of the organisers has the idea that we have the curtain down for the start. The band will kick off with a rumble start to “The Blood”. The massive backlighting gantry will rise at the same time as the curtain to dramatic effect. At the same time a rolling wave of dry ice will be released from behind the curtain revealing the shadowy figures of Salt Solution. Rock and Roll!

The reality: The band start rumbling, and the curtain jams. The band rumbles on, and on, the dry ice dissipates . Eventually the curtain goes up 4 feet and the band rush out, (deserting the drummer) in case it drops again. The Martin plucks his microphone from it’s stand, and it falls apart. He quickly reassembles it. It falls apart again. Rock gods? – not this time.

Audience in the spotlight

  • The guy in Wimbourne who rose to a karaoke challenge of singing “should I stay or should I go” with the Salties
  • The Conisborough boy who sang a totally spontaneous “My Generation” with the Salties, in his school assembly
  • The countless musicians from the audience who ‘swapped’ places with the band members so that the Salties could regularly go dancing in the Audience.
  • The selection of hecklers who had to endure the “Podium of humiliation” while the band played on

Hardware Memories

  • Simons ‘Wardrobe’ Bass Cab
  • Martin’s ‘home made’ Mike stand, effect box, and filing cabinet cowbell
  • Andy’s dirty washing that he kept in his bass drum

Strangest Gigs

  • Much later after the arrival of Andy and then Pete, there was the Prison gig on the Isle of Wight, in a prison chapel, packed full of the incarcerated and locked in with them. The blacks were on the left and the whites on the right – by their own choice
  • The Mencap concert when everyone was on their feet and dancing, literally from the first note. Never before or since. No inhibitions there.

Where are they now?

Robert Bathurst is a partner for the Drake and Kannemeyer firm of Chartered Surveyors, plays in the blues band ‘Stormy Waters’ and is part of the Post-BCC Christian community.

Andy Clark works in the Banking industry.

Martin Day is an ex-glassblower, ex-computer wiz, works pro bono as a Christian life coach and is part of the Post-BCC Christian community. He also runs a Sumo Wrestling Party business. Yes, you read that correctly. – see He still works on a variety of creative projects as featured on this site and is currently recording under the name Mervyn Sprocket (again!).

Pete Milner is a space and furniture designer.

Simon Bartlett working In IT in a major shipping company after doing considerable time with Ordinance Survey. See to find what Simon is up to.

And the ex-band members?

Doug McKellar (ex-drummer & ex-manager) works in IT and manages the accomplished recording career of Helen Jayne McKellar (who herself also performed backing vocals on two of the Arctic Frosties album), and to whom he is also married.

Kenton Keys (ex-drummer) works in a Chandlers in the West Country

Martin Gibbs (ex-drummer) – went on to work in Estate Agency in the West Country, but sadly died young from cancer in 2011.

Salt Solution pages

Further info

Some of the works from the ‘Arctic Frosties‘ album are also included in the Music section and there is some live performance footage as well as movies featuring Salt Solution songs.