Named in honor of a crumbling Dublin housing estate, the edgy, assaultive Fatima Mansions formed in London in 1989. The group was led by the acerbic Cathal Coughlan, who first emerged with Microdisney, and completed by guitarist Andrias O'Gruama, bassist Hugh Bunker, drummer Nick Allum and keyboardist Zac Woolhouse. Almost immediately upon forming, the Fatima Mansions signed to Kitchenware Records and entered the studio, soon issuing their 1989 debut Against Nature, a raw, blistering album featuring the single "Only Losers Take the Bus."
The 1990 single "Blues for Ceausescu" heralded a new level of intensity which fully blossomed on the eclectic Viva Dead Ponies (original title: Bugs F**king Bunny). In 1991 Coughlan unexpectedly mounted a series of solo acoustic gigs, performing as "Fatima Mansions Singular; " while much of the group's subsequent 1991 EP Bertie's Brochures reflected the subtlety of the live performances, a brutal deconstruction of R.E.M.'s "Shiny Happy People" served notice that the Mansions' frontman had not mellowed one whit.
Similarly, 1992's full-length Valhalla Avenue was a return to ferocity, narrowly reaching the upper half of the U.K. Top 100 charts. The Fatima Mansions also scored a fluke Top Ten hit late in the year with a merciless cover of Bryan Adams' "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)," the flip-side of a Manic Street Preachers' rendition of "Suicide Is Painless." While opening for U2 in Milan, Italy, Coughlan triggered a near riot with his onstage comments about the Pope; in 1993 he issued the solo LP 20 Golden Showers under the name Bubonique, while the Mansions' Lost in the Former West followed in 1994. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi