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 Fucking 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.