Punk and new wave years
In the mid-1970s, Mandelson was a student at Bolton Institute of Technology (now Bolton University), where he met Howard Devoto, future Buzzcocks and Magazine frontman. When punk emerged, he formed a band called Amazorblades, being the group's guitarist.
In 1981, he joined Howard Devoto's band Magazine, replacing Robin Simon (who previously replaced a solid member of that band, John McGeoch) and playing on their last album Magic, Murder and the Weather.
World music years
In 1982 as Hijaz Mustapha, he started playing with Lu Edmonds a.k.a Uncle Patrel Mustapha Bin Mustapha, which led to the formation of 3 Mustaphas 3, a band that was active throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s.